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of the Times Challenge


Prepared for the
Kinus Klal Yisrael
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Sunday, May 20
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2012 - ayun .u n.
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Introduction ............................................................................................................................3
Technology Al Pi Torah
Family Security And Issues Of Lifnei Iveir ....................................................5
Citing real-life stories and drawing on his Torah knowledge as a posek, Rabbi Yosef Viener describes
the challenges of the internet and presents the best strategies for combatting it.
e Best Accountability Program ..................................................................16
is age-old advice, which predates and transcends the Age of the Internet, represents the
quintessential Torah Accountability program.
True Stories ............................................................................................................................18
ere is no better way to drive home the very real dangers of the internet than by hearing it from
people who became its victims.
Challenge Of e Times ...............................................................................................28
Every generation has its challenges. e internet is ours, a pervasive sometimes subtle, sometimes
not-so-subtle inuence creeping ever more deeply into our lives every day.
Future e-Ramications .............................................................................................. 38
An entrepreneur thinks he knows it all when it comes to the internet, only to nd out too late that it has
destroyed him. Or is it too late?
Malignancies Of e Mind ........................................................................................ 52
In a very literal sense, all of the human vices over the millennia are now confronting internet users
daily, jumping out at them from the screen, and in many cases going on to wreak havoc in their
personal lives.
Chochmah Ba-Goyim Taamin
Chochmah ba-Goyim Taamin .............................................................................. 59
e internet is not only a Jewish problem. Many non-Jewish academics and intellectuals are united in
their warnings of the psychological, moral and cultural implications of the internet.
Technology Solutions
Re-Solutions ....................................................................................................................... 79
e technology experts at TAG, Technology Awareness Group, describe the pros and cons of the
various ltering and monitoring solutions available to the public and remind us that no solution
is perfect.
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I
t is no coincidence that Klal Yisrael has gathered as
one to unite in facing the challenges of modern tech-
nology at precisely this moment. We stand in the nal
days before our annual renewal of Kabbalas HaTorah.
Our unanimous declaration of ynu.: uy.. over 3,300
years ago was our dening moment as a nation. Yet
Chazal (Shabbos 88a) point out that generations later,
Klal Yisrael was moved to rearm their dedication to
Hashem and His Torah.
roughout our generations of wandering since we
entered this long and bitter golus, our nation has been
faced with many trials. Only by standing together and
remaining rmly entrenched in the faith of our fathers
have we persevered. Yet today we nd ourselves
threatened by a test of frightening magnitude, one that
has already done untold harm to our people. It is an un-
seen adversary that jeopardizes our very existence.
Once again we are standing at a crossroads, a dening
moment in the history of our nation. Our Gedolim have
risen to the challenge and called upon us, the rank and
le of Klal Yisrael, to join them in taking up the ght. And
on a personal level, this is a dening moment in the lives
of each one of us. By joining the asifa we are rearming
our dedication to the principles of the Torah, and we are
renewing our proud rallying call of ynu.: uy.. We are
showing the world yet again that through our dedication
we are truly worthy of being the nation of Hashem and
the bearers of his Torah.
In the words of the Navi: :u.y: {.u c. un . .
(a c yu) u. :y :+:a.: n.: :y: onu: e dark-
ness will cover the land and gloom over the nations, but
on you will Hashem shine and His honor will we visible
upon you. We are at a time when the world is covered
with darkness, when it eagerly embraces a harmful and
destructive path. Yet Klal Yisrael is prepared to stand
apart, to buck the trend and ght the current. For this,
the Navi promises us, we will earn that our paths be il-
luminated by the light of Hashem and we will merit that
His glory will rest upon us.
To place this evening in its proper perspective,
the following critical points must be underscored:
Internet Solutions
It must be made clear before we introduce the various
solutions that will be oered for the internet, such as l-
ters and blocks, that these are not true solutions. ey
do not solve the internet problem. e only real solution
is to ban all access to the internet. And that, in fact, is what
each of us who can do so must do.
A yeshiva bachur, kollel fellow or a melamed Torah, all
of whom are not required to have internet for their job,
should not own or come in contact with any devices ca-
pable of accessing the internet with or without lters.
ere is no excuse for using the internet where it is not
absolutely necessary.
Internet access must be viewed as a bdieved, an ab-
solute last resort where there is no other possible means.
e only reason we discuss lters and other solutions al-
together is to accommodate businesspeople and the like
:n nwi nin nat:i
Welcome to what promises to be the most
momentous evening of your life!
We wish to thank Zman magazine for
researching and writing this very informative
and important publication, produced especially
for this historical asifa. Zmans well-deserved
reputation for in-depth, quality, riveting
articles is plainly evident in this work and is
the reason we chose them to represent our
interests at this ground-breaking event.
Special anks!
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who are forced by their situation to use the internet.
For them, there are various possibilities that will be
discussed in detail to minimize the risks associated
with going online.
Anyone who need not expose himself to a danger-
ous and highly contagious disease is forbidden by
the Torah to do so, even if he takes all possible pre-
cautions.
Uniting Against the reat
e Gedolim have urged Klal Yisrael to gather as
one to ght a common enemy. e problem is truly
universal, and requires a united front to deal with.
At this historic asifa, we must establish a basic
standard for everyone to adhere to in their relation
with the internet.
e purpose of our gathering together is to unify
Klal Yisrael in recognizing the problem that aects
all of us. Every Jew in every community must com-
mit to dealing with it. e asifa will help us all under-
stand what daas Torah dictates as the minimum
safeguards that must be in place when we use the
internet.
Of course, each kehillah must have its own Rav,
Rosh Yeshiva or Rebbe to serve as its guide in all
areas of life. is issue is no exception. Every ke-
hillah may build on these basic standards according
to the needs of its members. Praiseworthy are
the communities that are able to implement even
higher and better standards!
A Unique Opportunity
We are one nation and our gathering together
tonight was intended to emphasize this point.
Many of our actions and decisions are directly af-
fected by those around us. For example, most of
us have little temptation to work on Shabbos or
eat non-kosher food, because we draw strength
from our peers and the community around us.
is can be a powerful tool in the service of
Hashem. At the same time, however, it makes our
observance of the Torah and mitzvos much less
personal. How much reward do we deserve for a
mitzvah we may be keeping largely due to peer
pressure?
e trial of the internet is entirely dierent. is
is a very personal nisayon, a test of the individuals
character. Most internet use takes place in private.
As such, the temptation to visit unsuitable sites is
rarely tempered by a fear of discovery. It is a ght
that goes on within the person and it is entirely
between him and Hashem. is is an area where
ones Yiras Shamayim is of overriding signicance.
We must recognize this uniquely personal ni-
sayon as a golden opportunity. Perhaps more than
in any other area of our Torah-based lives, the in-
ternet gives us the opportunity to display our love
for Hashem and our determination to fulll His will.
Each time a Jew holds himself back from visiting
a website that he knows is not appropriate, from
one wrong click, he is acting out his pure love and
fear of Hashem. It is a moment to be tapped in to;
a moment that calls out for reection and prayer.
We are declaring through our actions: Hashem, I
am Your son! I love You and I want You to be proud
of me! Help me overcome my yetzer hara, help me
fulll Your will!
Maintaining our purity when dealing with the
internet is a supreme expression of our dedication
to and love for Hashem!
In Conclusion
e Torah states, u u.;:) ou:+; on: onu+;n:
+n) Make yourselves holy and you will be holy.
Chazal derive from the seeming redundancy a les-
son that, :yn:n :n:u [u+;n un:n :ny u+;n o+u
(u: un:). If a person makes himself holy below,
he will be made holy from above. In other words,
if we invest our eort to purify ourselves and rise
above the spiritual pollution that surrounds us, we
will merit Divine assistance from above.
May your participation in this once-in-a-lifetime
event carry you through all the trials you will face
in life, and may this merit earn you unlimited bless-
ings from above, for good health, abundant wealth
and happiness for you and all of your family!
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we will discuss is that of the sanctity of the fam-
ily, which is currently suering from the most
insidious and dangerous attack ever leveled
against it: the internet.
If you are about to turn the page because you
feel that you have heard all there is to say on this
subject, please bear with me for a few pages.
First of all, I doubt that you have heard every-
thing. Second, even if you do not think that the
subject pertains to you, you might learn in the
course of the essay that it does. In my years
serving the frum community, there has never
been a burning issue that aects the community
at large as profoundly as this one does. If I may
borrow a term, the internet is the silent killer
of the neshamah. It is very silent it can be used
in the privacy of a closed room in the home or
oce and its very deadly. One can commit
spiritual suicide, and those around him will be
none the wiser, until it is far too late. No one can
Question
I have internet in my home and oce, and a friend
of mine claims that if I do not lter or monitor
the content, I could be violating the issur of lifnei
iveir lo sitein michshol. He argues that my allow-
ing unrestricted internet use by my family and
employees will no doubt cause them spiritual
harm, and the responsibility for the damage will
be partially my fault. is concept is new to me.
Is it indeed necessary for me to install the proper
ltering software, or is it merely a suggestion for
those who want to be machmir?
Answer
We are going to discuss an issue that might
seem like an old topic, because there have been
many gatherings to address the issue. Much to
my surprise and chagrin, however, the message
does not seem to have hit home. e security
Family
Security
And Issues
Of Lifnei Iveir
Rabbi Yosef Viener
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In discussing this topic, I will present an ap-
proach toward the internet geared to those who
either absolutely need the internet or dont have
the courage to get rid of it. Before I do so, however,
I must issue a disclaimer: If you are among the
lucky members of Klal Yisrael who do not have
internet in their homes, please do not change that
because of anything I am about to mention. Ulti-
mately, the best response to the internet remains,
and always will remain, not to have any access
to it. If you dont need it, then dont have it. Not at
home, not at the oce, not on your cell phone and
not anywhere else. at is the best security policy
of all. Many people convince themselves that they
need internet access, but if they would honestly
assess the reasons that they are connected to the
internet, they would realize that they could get by
without it.
A case in point: some claim they save $30-$40
per month shopping online rather than going to
the mall. at claim is debatable. Many husbands
who track their expenditures have told me that
the built-in shopping mall at home actually costs a
lot more than it saves, because shopping becomes
so easy that it encourages over-consumption. But
even if the savings were signicant, its dicult to
justify the danger of having the internet at home
just for the convenience and possible savings of
shopping online.
e Torah states that when we go to war, the
Shechinah (Divine Presence) joins us in the battle
and enables us to be victorious. But the Divine
escort is contingent upon one factor: Vhayah
machanecha kadosh your camp shall be holy
(Devarim 23:15). e Torah warns, Vlo yireh bcha
ervas davar, veshov meiacharecha He shall not
see a shameful thing among you and turn away
from behind you (ibid.). Ultimately, then, one
ervas davar costs us more than all of the savings
and benets we have from the internet. If we dont
have the Shechinah with us, we cannot succeed
in any of our endeavors. And the internet does
know whether this problem aects a neighbor, a
tablemate in shul or a chavrusa sitting across from
you. As we will see, if it aects someone in your
close circle of acquaintances, then it aects you
as well.
Yet, people are either oblivious to the danger or
are deliberately choosing not to focus on it.
Years back, when the initial gatherings regard-
ing the internet took place, the Lakewood mash-
giach, R Mattisyahu Salamon, shlita, would travel
from one community to the next and warn people
about the danger. I would take the opportunity to
interview friends and members of my shul who
attended those gatherings. I would ask people
what steps they would take based on what they
had learned at the gatherings. To my dismay, a
common response was, Im sure that this prob-
lem exists in other peoples homes, but baruch
Hashem, my home is safe. Another response that
I would hear is, I think that the Rabbanim are ex-
aggerating in order to scare us into action.
Unfortunately, the real story is no exaggeration.
Rabbeim, rabbanim and community leaders will
tell you that not a week goes by without having to
deal with an internet-induced shalom bayis prob-
lem, chinuch problem, or with a very ne bachur
or at least whats left of one who calls crying
and begging to help him extricate himself from the
tentacles of the internet.
e internet is the silent killer of the
neshamah. It is very silent it can be
used in the privacy of a closed
room in the home or oce
and its very deadly.
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Sarah Imeinu taught us an invaluable lesson.
No matter how pure and holy a person is, when
he is exposed to temptation he is liable to fall
prey to it. And if that is true about the relatively
innocuous temptation embodied by the pres-
ence of Yishmael in the otherwise spiritually
uplifted environment of Avraham and Sarahs
home, how much more true is it about the pres-
ence of the internet which contains temptations
that are so powerful and incredibly accessible.
One lesson we learn, then, is that no one can
claim that he is impervious to the temptation of
the internet. We must all seek ways to protect
and distance ourselves from this threat to our
spiritual security.
But there is another important lesson that we
can learn from the story of Yitzchak and Yish-
mael. All of the forms of security we are about
to discuss will help only for our own homes. e
safeguards we put into place will not help if we
do not know where our children are at all times,
with whom they are associating, and what those
children are exposed to and able to access.
While the problem of harmful inuence from
bad friends has always existed to some extent,
a decade or two ago we could suce with the
knowledge that our children werent playing with
real bums. But today, even the most innocent
looking children, from the best families, may
have access to the worst images imaginable.
Your son will tell you, Im just going to Mottys
house. Sounds safe enough. Mottys a nice boy,
you tell yourself. He doesnt watch movies or
hang out with the wrong people. Little do you
know that within minutes of being in Mottys
house, your son can sink to the lowest depths
of Gehinnom. It is still an unfortunate fact that
many Jewish homes have internet connections
that are unltered or unmonitored.
Parents naively supply their children with me-
dia devices (such as iPad and most MP3 players
not come with the potential for only one ervas
davar. Rather, it aords access to thousands of
them each hour.
My rst plea is, therefore, that every person
who has internet access should reevaluate the
decision he made when he brought the internet
into his home. He should determine whether he
truly needs it, or if he can dispose of the potential
pitfall at least in the home, where it is most
dangerous.
e rest of the advice in this essay is addressed
to those who must have internet access.
No One is Immune to
Harmful Inuence
Before we move onto the practical realm of
how to deal with the internet, it is important to
address those people who feel that their families
are impervious to the temptation provided by
the internet.
In Parashas Vayeira, the Torah relates that
Sarah Imeinu saw Yishmael interacting with
Yitzchak in an inappropriate manner, and she im-
plored Avraham Avinu to banish Yishmael from
their home. e Torah states, Vayeira hadavar
mod beinei Avraham al odos bno e matter
greatly distressed Avraham regarding his son
(Bereishis 21:11). Simply understood, his son
refers to Yishmael i.e., Avraham was greatly
distressed that he would have to banish his son
from his home. e Chasam Sofer explains this
verse dierently, however. He says that Avra-
ham was greatly distressed because of his son
Yitzchak. My Yitzchak, the holy Yitzchak, is sus-
ceptible to the inuence of Yishmael? Avraham
wondered. ere must be something wrong with
him if he cannot withstand the likes of Yishmael.
But Sarah Imeinu knew better. Hashem told
Avraham, Kol asher tomar eilecha Sarah, shma
bkolah whatever Sarah tells you, heed her
voice (ibid. 21:12).
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afraid to hurt peoples feelings. I dont want to
step on anyones toes!
is response was astounding, considering
what this fellow does for a living: hes a trial law-
yer. All he does all day is step on toes. He breaks a
few, injures others but for his sons sanctity and
safety hes afraid to step on toes. He spends his
workday being aggressive, but when it comes to
this subject, hes afraid to be branded a frumak,
so hed rather blame it on the generation than
face reality.
e reality today is that part of your job as a
parent is to make sure you know which houses
are protected from the internet and which are
not. It is a very delicate issue, and it can cause bad
feelings, but if you are not willing to check into
what your childs friends can expose your child
to, you are not doing your job as a parent. If you
are in doubt, then its better to err on the side of
caution. When you consider the grave damage
that can be done to your child in seconds, you will
probably agree that it is better to disassociate
from those who are willing to take a risk, rather
than have your child caught in the Net.
So while we will discuss what can be done to
protect our own homes, it is equally vital that you
know where your children are going each time
they leave the house. It sounds wearisome, but a
momentary lapse in your vigilance can introduce
them to a yetzer hara that is extremely dicult
to ght.
e Case of Shloimy
A bachur well call him Shloimy once called
me to request an appointment, several days be-
fore he was scheduled to return to yeshivah af-
ter Pesach bein hazmanim (intersession). Shlo-
imy entered my study, closed the door, sat down
and began to cry. He spent the next 25 minutes
crying. I couldnt make out any intelligible words
from what he was saying, but the torture that he
was going through was expressed clearly with-
sold today), without realizing that they all come
with full internet capabilities via their wireless
connection. It is the parents responsibility to
thoroughly investigate the phones, media play-
ers and games that that they are providing to
their children. One can download damaging con-
tent to be viewed with incredible ease, and erase
the evidence shortly after viewing, thus leaving
no visible trace of the damage that has been
caused.
A fellow I know once came running to me,
frantically seeking my advice. My son went to
his friends house, he said, and they saw some
very inappropriate things. I thought it was a good
home. I cant understand what happened to this
generation!
Did you check out the home before you al-
lowed him to play there? I asked.
Check out the house? he asked incredu-
lously. I sit next to the father in shul. My son is in
a wonderful yeshivah, and this boy is his class-
mate. I already checked out the shul we daven in
and the yeshivah I send him to. I know the father
personally. How much more checking must I do?
Im sorry, I countered, but you have to start
asking whether a home is protected from the
dangers of the internet before sending your child
to play there.
I cant ask that question, he insisted. Im
I will present an approach toward the
internet geared to those who either
absolutely need the internet
or dont have the courage
or fortitude to get rid of it.
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was absolutely unnecessary. You have to know
your kids, he said. Each one of my children is
a bigger tachshit (loosely translated: gem) than
the next.
Besides, he added, I once installed a lter
for a few days, and it blocked out too much, so I
removed it.
I add this last detail because aside from the
navet regarding how powerful a yetzer hara
we are dealing with, I found the lack of patience
in this case to be a bit odd. When we are talking
about the spiritual success or failure of our chil-
dren, is a system that blocks too much so bad?
And if it is too much of a pain, why go without
any system? Try another one, and then another
if you must, but dont go without anything!
Finally, with Shloimys permission, I told his
father what had been going on for the previous
ve months. Its a shame that you didnt accept
the message from the asifos that you attended,
I said, because now we have a broken person to
deal with, and we can only hope to get him back.
I said we could only hope to get him back be-
cause, as Shloimy told me during his confession,
not only did he feel terrible guilt for the aveiros he
had already done, but even as he tried to do tes-
huvah, he simply couldnt concentrate because of
the images oating around in his head.
Certainly, Hashem gave us a gift called teshu-
vah, and just as a computer has a delete button,
Hashem can help a person delete those images
as well. However, if the proper precautions are
not taken, a relapse is possible at any time. An
integral part of the teshuvah process is ensuring
that the proper steps are taken to help mitigate
the possibility of transgression.
Issur Yichud with a Computer
I have had tens of cases just like this one.
Young, budding talmidei chachamim who were
at the top of their respective classes in yeshi-
out words. When he nally drew himself togeth-
er, he told me that less than half a year earlier, on
anksgiving weekend, his parents went away
for a Shabbos and left him home alone.
e word downhill does not do justice to
Shloimys trajectory over the eight or nine
weeks that followed. His interest in learning
went into such a tailspin that his rebbi called
the parents to discuss it. What happened to
my star talmid? he asked in concern. I ask him
questions during shiur and I realize that he was
daydreaming; he hasnt been doing chazzarah
(reviewing)
e parents didnt know what to make of
Shloimys downturn. Rather than investigate
the possible causes, they reasoned that children
have their ups and downs, and they gured that
Shloimy would eventually come out of the rut on
his own. Shloimy by his own admission con-
tinued to spiral ever-downward for the rest of
the winter.
Shloimy comes from an amazing family, and
their entire home is run al taharas hakodesh.
ere are no magazines in the home, no televi-
sion nothing that can lead a person astray
except for one thing. Shloimys father is a busi-
nessman, and he feels that he needs a computer
with internet access in his home. And on that
fateful weekend, Shloimy began a descent on
the slippery slope that has felled so many.
A while after my conversation with Shloimy, I
managed to have a conversation with Shloimys
father without betraying to him that his son had
spoken to me. Shloimys father mentioned that
he had been to two of the gatherings discussing
internet access.
What action did you take after you left those
gatherings? I asked him.
He said that he understood that it was impor-
tant for other families to have the systems that
I encourage people to install, but in his family it
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I know that this last statement will sound
outlandish to some people. After one gathering
regarding the internet, I asked someone who at-
tended, What do you consider the most power-
ful line you heard at the gathering?
He smiled and said, I know what the most
powerful line was, but I think it was a great chid-
dush. HaRav Mattisyahu Salamon said that if the
internet was around in the times of Chazal, they
would have enacted an issur yichud upon it. How
can there be an issur yichud with a computer
its not a living being!
e Mashgiachs words were certainly not
novel; in fact, they reach the crux of the issue.
He understands how powerful this yetzer hara
is because he has dealt with the fallout. Deal-
ing with the fallout has shown that being with a
computer, alone, leaves a person very vulner-
able. In fact, we might argue that in an ordinary
yichud situation, we are typically dealing with
two people who can have a variety of reasons for
resisting inappropriate behavior: pride, fear, etc.
In the case of the internet, we are dealing with
one person, with no culpability. e computer
will not protest or say anything to anyone later
on. If the persons conscience is unable to stop
him as unfortunately seems to be the case in
an overwhelming number of instances he is in
a serious predicament.
On the very morning that I delivered a shiur
on this topic, Hashem sent me yet another case.
is time, a father called me up and said, I have a
very open relationship with my son, and he dis-
cussed something with me that I think you can
help us with. We need to talk to you together.
I spoke to the father for a few minutes, and
then I asked him whether I could speak to his son
privately. I knew that the situation would cause
an untold amount of embarrassment to the boy,
and I wanted him to be able to face his father
afterward. e father agreed, and when the boy
entered the room, the rst question he asked
vah became broken and dispirited because they
were left in a vulnerable position by parents who
were too proud, or too nave, to acknowledge
that their son might be tempted by the impurity
that is so readily available on the internet.
For those who feel that they or their children
are immune to the temptation posed by the in-
ternet, a quote from Rambam should dispel that
notion. e Rambam (Hilchos Issurei Biah 22:18-
20) writes, ere is nothing as dicult for the
majority of the Jewish people as [the mitzvah
to refrain] from illicit relationships Our Sages
taught that theft and illicit relationships are sins
that a person is drawn to and desires erefore,
it is worthwhile for a person to subjugate his
yetzer in this area, and to train himself to act in
a holy manner and have only pure thoughts, and
to plan properly to save himself from [such sins].
One should refrain from yichud, because it is the
greatest cause [for sins of this nature].
e Rambam is teaching us that the yetzer
hara that people are falling prey to on the internet
is the most dicult one to withstand. It is foolish
to try to ght the most dicult yetzer hara on
its home turf. We must try to avoid this yetzer
hara altogether by getting rid of the internet, or
at least diminish the possibility of falling prey to
it by having the correct systems installed. In-
deed, we must treat the computer with the issur
yichud that the Rambam names as the greatest
cause of sins in this realm.
Finally, with Shloimys permission, I told his
father what had been going on for the previous
ve months. Its a shame that you didnt
accept the message from the asifos that you
attended, I said, because now we
have a broken person to deal with, and
we can only hope to get him back.
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even when parents of boys that I have met with
do attend a gathering, their reaction to what
they hear is usually, I think that it was a very
important drashah. Im going to tell my neighbor
about it the next time I see him.
If the situation I portray seems frightening, its
only because it is. We must make internet secu-
rity a community priority and a societal norm, to
the extent that no one would consider having
unltered and unreported internet access.
Filtering and Accountability
Let me outline the system that I feel must be
in place on every computer that has internet ac-
cess, whether at home or in the oce. Again, the
best solution is still to have no internet access in
the rst place, but in cases where that is not an
option, we need to have a two-tiered security
system comprised of ltering software and re-
porting software.
ere are dozens of programs available, with
varying levels of ecacy. Interestingly, many
well-meaning non-Jews realize that the moral
fabric of this country is decaying because of
the terrible impact of the internet, and they are
inventing software to combat the problem. So
concerned are they about the problem that they
are making their software available for free or
for a nominal fee of $10 or $20 a month a small
price to pay when we realize what is at stake.
Some programs do both ltering and reporting,
and some do only one of the two; you can install
more than one program on your system to pro-
vide comprehensive coverage.
Let me explain the purpose and operating
method of each of the two types of software.
Filtering Software
e purpose of ltering software is to block
inappropriate material from reaching your
computer screen. Most lters will allow you to
was whether I had ever heard of the problem
before. is boy was under the impression that
he was the only one with this problem. I assured
him that he was far from the odd man out. You
are very normal, I said. What makes you dif-
ferent is that you told your father, and I am very
impressed that you did. Otherwise, you are un-
fortunately a prototypical case of a person left
alone with unlimited access to the internet.
I could see that it took a load o his shoulders.
at doesnt mean that I caused him to view the
situation lightly far from it. But it was comfort-
ing to him to know that he was struggling with a
normal yetzer hara, and that he was not crazy.
is boy explained that when he started fail-
ing in this area, he sank into a deep depression,
certain that he was depraved and that no one
else was struggling with this desire. Once I ex-
plained that it was normal, he felt that he could
deal with it.
Realize, however, that what I told him was the
truth: the sort of honest relationship he has with
his father is extremely rare. Most parents will
have no idea of what their children are up to at all,
and even if they do nd out, it will be at a stage
at which it will be very, very dicult to undo the
damage. Bachurim come to me many times to
discuss this problem on the condition that I not
tell their parents. After hearing the extent of
the damage and the frequency with which they
have been falling prey, I often ask, Dont you
parents know anything? e answer is invari-
ably, ey have no clue.
e good news in those cases is that these
boys are seeking help. (I can just imagine how
many other boys are in similar situations, but are
too ashamed to seek help.) e bad news is that I
cant tell the parents afterwards, because I have
been approached in condence, so I just have to
hope that they attend a gathering on the subject
and decide to eradicate the problem from the
home without my intervention. Unfortunately,
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ates a report and sends it to you and someone
else via email. It is imperative that you send the
report to someone who you will have diculty
facing if the report is unfavorable a chavrusa, a
Rebbi, or a rav.
I have made the following oer in public, and
it stands for anyone reading this essay: if you
cannot nd someone with whom you are un-
comfortable enough to send the reports to, I am
willing to read your reports, as long as you are
willing to accept some warm divrei mussar if I nd
something troublesome on a report. I already re-
ceive numerous reports each morning, many of
which are for internet use of people I dont even
know. Each report takes me only a few seconds
to read, because the rst few lines of the report
contain a brief synopsis something to the ef-
fect of looks good, report needs review, or
report needs close review.
Employing this two-tiered system is the only
way to have internet access without presenting
a clear and present danger to the sanctity of our
homes. Many people who have suered from an
internet addiction have been cured after install-
ing such software and being forced to face a rav
or Rebbi who actually took the time to read the
reports and contact their mispallel or talmid and
discuss it, thus successfully weaning him o of
the addiction.
A case in point is a fellow who came over to
me after Maariv one night and asked to speak to
me in private. He waited until all the other people
who were waiting nished asking their sheilos,
and then he sat down and said, I am a regular,
card-carrying member of the frum community.
My children attend good yeshivos, Im profes-
sional, I make plenty of money, I learn daf yomi
each day, and I have been addicted to the inter-
net for several years.
Im a lawyer, he told me. It is not considered
strange for me to stay in the oce until 11 or 12
oclock at night. Little did anyone know that I
white list the websites that you need to use, so
that you can conne your internet access to the
minimal number of websites that you really need.
You can also blacklist specic sites that you
dont want people in your home to access. Aside
from the white lists and blacklists, the lters use
frequently updated information and advanced
technology to scan websites and block those
that contain oensive language and objection-
able material.
Unfortunately, though, the people who are at-
tempting to spread tumah are very determined
to get their lth through the lters, and they will
stop at nothing. ey create thousands of sites
each day, many of which are designed to out-
smart the ltering systems.
In addition, a determined child (or adult) can
gure out a way to work around a lter so that he
(or she) can get to the inappropriate material, or
he can stumble on the password for the lter and
disable it.
It is therefore imperative that you add the sec-
ond layer of protection: a reporting system.
Reporting Software
Reporting software can track anything on
your computer, down to each keystroke and click
of the mouse if you set it up to do so. Its most
important function, however, is to track website
visits and searches. e software then gener-
HaRav Mattisyahu Salamon said
that if the internet was around in
the times of Chazal, they
would have enacted an
issur yichud upon it.
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this yetzer hara, so we had better employ the
fear of getting caught (mora basar vadam) to
boost our immunity.
I cannot overemphasize the need for the
reporting software. Filtering is simply not
enough. e people who invent these reporting
programs consider it so vital that when you set
up the options for the frequency at which the
reports will be generated, you will notice that
one of the options is to have a report sent every
hour. If the team that created this software real-
ized how dangerous the internet is, how much
more so should we.
A Word on Passwords
One more important point regarding ltering
and reporting software:
In order to set up these systems, you have
to apply a password that allows you to control
the level of ltering, the websites that you want
to enable access to, and other features. It is
imperative that the people most susceptible to
this yetzer hara not be the ones to set up the
password. If a lonely husband spending summer
nights alone in the city nds himself in the vul-
nerable position of having access to a computer
on which all he must do is enter a password
and change the ltering levels, then we havent
gained much by setting up the ltering system.
One possibility is to have the husband and wife
each enter a few of the characters in the pass-
word, so that neither of the two can make a
change to the password without the other ones
knowledge. If that is not practical, have a neigh-
bor or friend set up the password.
Toward Greater Productivity:
Internet at Home
e art of killing time has been perfected
through internet use. A simple search often
turns into hours of nonsensical activity. It should
be obvious that as frum yidden we must real-
usually nished my work much earlier (due to
the downturn in the economy) and I spent the
rest of the time tearing apart my neshamah.
Quite a rsum. I had to give him credit for
coming in person. Most people with this problem
call and discuss it anonymously over the phone.
I need your help, he continued. I want to
have the reports of my internet use sent to you.
Ill be happy to have you send them to me, I
said, but only on the condition that if I call you up
and give you mussar, youll listen to me. If you are
going to hate me for it or avoid my phone calls,
then we are not going to accomplish much by
having you send me reports.
Im aware of the consequences, he replied.
But Ive heard from others using the system
that it works very well, and I need help!
is man has been on the ltering and report-
ing system for two months. e good news is
that many of the reports were good. at bad
news is that several weeks ago, the headline on
the page read, Report needs close review.
I sent this man an email, Please contact me
ASAP.
He wrote back, I am having tremendous bi-
zyonos (embarrassment) because of this, and
its going to get better.
Im happy to report that it did get better. e
last few reports have been much better.
Does this mean that he wont cave to his
yetzer hara ever again? No. But he knows that
if he does slip, hell have some explaining to
do, and that is a very powerful deterrent. It is a
perfect application of R Yochanan ben Zakkais
blessing to his students, Yehi ratzon sheyehei
mora Shamayim aleichem kemora basar vadam
May it be [Hashems] will that your fear of
Heaven should be akin to your fear of a human.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to muster
up enough mora Shamayim when it comes to
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time also involves serious issues of gneivah as
well as loss of potential revenue for the rm. And
if these sins are not in the realm of Even Ezer
(which includes the sins associated with viewing
improper sites), then they will be in the realm of
Choshen Mishpat, because employees will waste
company time surng the net if they are left to
their own devices.
It took a few weeks of intense nudging to
convince the managing partner of the law rm
to install an elaborate security system on his
computer network. But once the system was
installed, it took only a few days until he called
me and said, Rabbi Viener, I dont know how to
thank you.
Baruch Hashem! I said. You have the tznius
under control?
Not yet, he said, but I already red three
people. ey were caught spending over 30% of
their time on the interneton my dime!
I dont see why the CEO of any company
frum or not wouldnt rush to install a ltering
and reporting system on their computers. If for
nothing else, it keeps honest people honest, and
productivity will naturally go uphopefully to the
levels that it should be at in the rst place.
Similarly, if you are an employee in a rm and
you sit alone in an oce with a computer that is
not ltered, make sure to get the computer tech-
nician in your oce to place a ltering and report-
ing system on your computer. If it is impossible to
make such changes in your oce, perhaps it is
time to reevaluate your working there. Remem-
ber, turning the Shechinah away from you will
only hurt your parnassah prospects.
A Note to Women
Chazal teach that women lead the way when it
comes to maintaining the sanctity of the home.
In Parashas Bo, Pharaoh oers to allow the men
ize that our job in life is to utilize all the precious
time given to us for the avodas Hashem that we
were created to do. Wasting time surng the net,
even if nothing improper is viewed, and no lashon
horah is read, is akin to committing suicide with
an installment plan. It is a crime to waste precious
time on endless net-browsing for men who have
precious little time for their daily learning, and for
busy women who struggle to nd time for their
children, davening or chessed.
Toward Greater Productivity:
Internet in the Workplace
One fellow who came to discuss the problem
of the internet with me is a lawyer who owns a
large law rm. I told him that aside from the inter-
net security system he must set up in his home,
he must also put a security system in place in his
oce. If an employer has a computer system (for
Yidden in the oce), he may be transgressing,
Lifnei iveir lo sitein michshol if he does not have
a ltering and accountability system in place.
Although lifnei iveir applies only when it is
certain (or very likely) that another person is go-
ing to sin because of your actions, in the case of
the internet it is almost guaranteed that those
working on an unprotected system will be mis-
using the computer. e misuse will not only be
limited to improper viewing. Wasting company
is boy explained that when he
started failing in this area, he sank into
a deep depression, certain that
he was depraved and that no
one else was struggling
with this desire.
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eorts to maintain kdushas habayis by pro-
tecting yourselves and your families from this
terrible danger should succeed. Only with tellah
can our hishtadlus to raise frum ehrliche Yidden
be met with hatzlachah.
I will end on an optimistic note. e fact that
the yetzer hara has grown so strong in our
time, in large part due to the inuence of the
internet, is a sure sign that Mashiach is on his
way. Just before the time comes for the yetzer
hara to be eradicated, Hashem is allowing him
to unleash every tool in his arsenal to try to
lead us astray. It is up to us to neutralize the
yetzer haras most powerful weapon, so that
we merit to greet Mashiach with pure eyes,
hearts, and minds.
A small sampling of the
many lter and reporting
programs available:
MWebChaver: www.webchaver.org
MJnet lter for computer, Blackberry and
other mobile devices: www.thejnet.com
MEblaster very thorough reporting sys-
tem: www.eBlaster.com
MNetNanny www.NetNanny.com
MAccountable2you (free):
www.accountable2you.com
MWebSense an enterprise level product if
you run a medium size business or larger:
www.websense.com
For a rundown on these and other lter
programs, see internet-lter-review at www.
toptenreviews.com. Also, see the Re-Solutions
section of this publication.
to go serve Hashem in the wilderness, as long as
the women and children would remain in Mitz-
rayim. In Divrei Aggadah, Harav Yosef Shalom
Elyashiv explains that Pharaoh realized that if
the men were allowed to serve Hashem on their
own, they would not last long. ey could only
succeed if the women were backing and sup-
porting them in their eorts.
Harav Elyashiv cites a Midrash as proof. e
Midrash states that a righteous man was mar-
ried to a righteous woman, and they did not have
any children. ey decided to divorce and they
each married another person. e man married
a wicked woman and he became wicked. e
woman married a wicked man and she made him
righteous. We see, concludes the Midrash, that
everything comes from the woman.
Women: I cannot overemphasize the dicult
yetzer hara that the internet presents for your
husbands and children. I dont want to cause
shalom bayis issues, but trust me it is far easier
to prevent the problem than to deal with it when
it turns into a real issue, chas vshalom.
Please do not assume that you are not in dan-
ger as well. Although women are generally not
as susceptible to the yetzer haras that plague
men, the enticing nature of the web can (and
unfortunately does) ensnare both genders.
Nashim tzidkaniyos! Insist that the internet be
removed from your home if it does not need to
be there. If you must have internet access, see to
it that a lter and reporting system be installed
on all computers, Blackberries and iPhones. If
your husband is resistant, speak to his Rav as
soon as possible, because your husband may
already be in trouble. If he doesnt have a Rav
because he frequents too many shuls, make
sure he nds one. Very few can win the battle
without the help of a spiritual mentor.
Finally and I address this exhortation to both
parents and children daven. Daven that your
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e Best
Accountability
Program
W
e know that everyone who needs the
internet needs ways of protecting
themselves from unrestrictive use, and
one of the best weapons in this battle
is an accountability or reporting program. is
is when all the websites one visits are
recorded and sent to a person (e.g=.,
friend or Rav) in front of whom
one would feel ashamed if
they were found to have
visited inappropriate
websites. Well, long before
the advent of software,
and even computers, the
Jewish people had the original
accountability program. It is
presented here as an excerpt
from Rabbi Avigdor Miller, ztl, in a
new, recently published book of his
teachings: Rav Avigdor Miller
On Emunah And Bitachon
(Judaica Press in
conjunction with the
Simchas HaChaim
Foundation).
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a good idea, by the way, to remember Hashem
when you daven.) And therefore, echad means: In
all the things I do in this world, He is the only inter-
est I have.
e next day, add a new kavanah, a new layer
of meaning. ink Hashem Echad in the fol-
lowing terms. Hashem is in this worldAtah
hu bOlam Hazeh, vatah hu bOlam Habah,
Youre He who is in this world; and Youre He who
is in the next world. Hashem is in both worlds, this
world and the next. Be aware of Him in this world
and fulll His mitzvos, because in the next world
we will be together with Him too. You cant take
a dive o the Empire State Building and get rid of
Him. No. Im esak shamayim sham atah If I
will go up to the Heavens, King David said in Te-
hillim (139:8), there You are. If I will go down to the
depths of the sea, there You are.
Another layer of meaning you can have in the
word echad is as follows: Hashem, Youre the
only One that exists. Nobody exists in this world.
Nothing exists. Its all Hashems imagination.
Hashem imagined the sun and it came into be-
ing. If He would withdraw His imagination there
would be no sun. ink about that. When you look
at the sun or moon youre seeing only the dvar
Hashem, the word of Hashem. Bdvar Hashem
shamayim nasuits only His word that you see
(Tehillim 33:6). When He said yehi, Let there be
(Bereishis 1:6), it came to be. at is all you see, the
word of Hashem. ere are no trees no people
no houses nothing. ere is only Hashem. He is
the only One that has real being, as the Rambam
says in the beginning of Hilchos Yesodai HaTorah.
Hashem Elokim emesHe is the only true being.
Hu levado emesHe is the only One that is true.
All the rest in the world is only imagination. [See
also: Sing, You Righteous, para. 470-476.]
at is another meaning of Echad. In this man-
ner, you can add another kavanah (meditation)
every day in the word Echad. I gave you a few
things to think about. When you nish with them
see me for further homework.
QUESTION
When saying Shema Yisrael, what should
you think about?
ANSWER
e rst thing is kavanah pshuta. You have to
know the simple translation of the words and
think about the words youre translating. But I will
give you a good suggestion [to go beyond kava-
nah pshuta]. Every day you can add in another
peirush, another layer of meaning, to that.
Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokainu Hashem
Echadechad means He is One. What does One
mean? at if you will travel to the North Pole,
Hashem is there. If you travel to the South Pole,
He is there tooand in between, by the way. You
can go all the way to the west or eastwherever
you go you will nd Hashem.
If you travel to Tokyo and are all by yourself in
a hotel with a lot of money to spend and a lot of
leisure time, know that Hashem is looking at you.
You have to behave. If you go all the way to Hun-
gary, in a hotel in the mountains, and have a lot of
moneybehave, because Hashem is looking at
you. If youre in the North Pole all by yourselfbe-
have, because Hashem is looking at you. If temp-
tations come your way, behave like He is on the
spotwhich He is. ink this thought every day.
Mizrach, maariv, tzafon, darom, maaloh umatah
[East, west, north, south, up and down]He is
One everywhere.
at is one kavanah [one meditation]. Do this
for homework one dayand the next day think
about the next kavanah: Hashem Echad, Hash-
em is Onethere is only one interest in our lives.
We have a lot of interests, but he is the One in-
terest. When I go to work, its only Hashem that
I am thinking about. When I get marriedonly
for Hashem. When I am raising childrenonly
for Hashem. When I eatonly for Hashem. Even
when I daven, I am davening for Hashem. (Its
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True Stories
As told to the
Rabbonim and
Professionals
who deal with victims
of the internet
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sen for their relatively benign content. ey are
far from the worst. Yet, they reect the experi-
ences of all types of people, from all communities
and from all walks of life.
How the Internet Ruined
Me Financially
A chill runs up my spine as I recall the dismal
levels to which I had sunk before Hashem guid-
ed me to the help I desperately needed in the
nick of time.
It is unnecessary to relate the entire chain of
events in all its gory details. It is enough that I de-
scribe to you just the tip of the iceberg, enough to
help you imagine just how destructive this tech-
nology can be, sans the proper precaution.
It all started when I entered into a partnership
with my friend, opening an online business to-
gether. I was delighted that I no longer had to haul
heavy boxes or answer to a demanding boss.
I was the luckiest person on earth, or at least
thats what I thought.
At rst, I would share an oce with my part-
ner as we worked together. After a while, how-
ever, I found myself alone in the oce. While my
partner was preoccupied with other activities, I
was responsible for the computer work. And we
became quite friendly, him and me, and by him
I mean the internet. A bit too friendly, as I realized
only much later.
I gradually became more and more hooked on
this miracle technology, and I would spend hours
upon hours in its tentacles. Everything fascinat-
ed me and I left nothing unexplored. It came to a
T
he greatest problem with the internet epi-
demic is that it is a relatively invisible one.
Yet, the destruction it leaves in its wake is
often all too visible.
ere are numerous tragic cases of those who
shed belief in Hashem due to the internets per-
nicious inuence or whose addictions led them
deep into the darkest abyss. Others seem normal
on the outside but live behind a faade; they walk
among us and dress like the typical frum person,
but are corrupted to the core. For some, it is not
enough to have become corrupted but they must
spread their disdain through conversations and
blogs posted on the internet (in English and/or in
Yiddish), expounding upon demoralizing or he-
retical thoughts of their own making simmering
inside them. Many who have not succumbed to
this treacherous virus are infected nonetheless,
some mildly and others more severely.
And yet, bad as we may think it is, the destruc-
tive inuence of the internet is worse than people
imagine. It is chilling to think about. Yet, this is the
reality we live in.
e rst step in dealing with this reality is
realizing that it is the realityand just how pro-
foundly it has aected lives. erefore, we pres-
ent a series of real-life stories about others who
have fallen into the internet trap. One cannot
imagine how many families have been aected.
Aside from the spiritual dangers which a per-
son can mistakenly take less seriously because
they are less tangiblethese stories testify to
the very real physical and nancial perils also
posed by the internet.
Please note that these stories have been cho-
e following is a selection of some of the many stories of people who have
fallen victim to the internet. ey are far from the worst stories, but they reect
the broadest spectrum of people, experiences and communities.
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conclusion to my story, which took place when a
relative got involved and helped me nd employ-
ment. e new job did not come with the great-
est salary, and was pretty similar to my rst job
hauling boxes, but I was happy. Yes, I still had that
powerful yearning to sit in front of a computer,
but in my heart I knew that this was the only way
to keep from falling into the trap again. e suf-
fering I sustained was enough to convince me
beyond a doubt that the internet was no game,
and it could totally ruin an entire family forever.
Dear friend, if your job necessitates sitting at
a computer, do everything you can to ensure
you will not get addicted and lose yourself to
point that I simply did not have enough hours in
my day to visit all my favorite websites, to chat
with all my electronic friends, read all the inter-
esting blogs and surf around the endless sea of
the internet. I just had to spend every spare sec-
ond I had in cyberspace. I would often tell my wife
that I had to return to the oce in the evening to
nish up some business, and then I would sit there
well past midnight, clicking my way through the
great wide cyber world.
I had often heard drashos and read about the
dangers of the internet, and I had always as-
sumed that the only peril was accessing deca-
dent and immoral sites. Now, however, I realize
that just being addicted to the benign parts
also posed serious problems. With my addiction
to the web, I was only one step away from ruin-
ing my life. e shalom bayis in my home was
adversely aected, I did not have a spare minute
to spend with my children, and I had no peace of
mind. I lived in my own isolated, fantasy island.
But I nally had my rude awakening when I was
struck with a heavy nancial blow. My partner
eventually realized that I was fooling around and
my part of the work was not getting done prop-
erly. One dark Wednesday, after an acrimonious
exchange, I found myself without a partner and
without a job.
I was stunned and shaken. My world had
turned black, but I decided to keep the news from
my family for as long as possible. Meanwhile, I still
hadnt lost my other, more important partner:
the internet. And this partner aorded me a full-
time job. is was now my ocial occupation all
day long. I fooled myself into thinking I would nd
other employment shortly. Obviously, however,
you nd nothing by oating through cyberspace,
except for more problems.
My nancial situation continued to go from bad
to worse, as did my emotional equilibrium. I went
through some terribly trying times I wouldnt
wish on anyone, and I became embroiled in many
other trials and tribulations that I would rather
not talk about. I will only tell you the fortunate
It came to a point that
I simply did not have
enough hours in my day
to visit all my favorite
websites, to chat
with all my electronic
friends, read all the
interesting blogs and
surf around the endless
sea of the internet.
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tinue to abuse my friends goodwill and take ad-
vantage of his kindness. I would have to get my
own oce!
And so I did. I rented a tiny cubicle of an oce
just enough to accommodate me and my com-
puter. It goes without saying that now I was able
to spend unlimited time at my beloved computer.
So much so that that diminutive oce soon be-
came my second home. Or, better said, my pri-
mary home.
It was as if I was glued to my chair in front of the
computer and nothing could entice me to leave it.
And when I absolutely had to leave, i.e. to go home
for dinner or the like, it was always with much re-
luctance, and I impatiently schemed how I could
quickly return to the magic of the screen.
Not surprisingly, this addiction came at a cost.
It is of course impossible to spend so many hours
on the unltered internet, no holds barred, with-
out becoming ensnared in the web both gu-
ratively and literally. For a long time, its inuence
remained subtle. I still recited berachos and still
davened (more or less). But, my heart and soul
were not in it. I was but a shell of the man I had
once been, and I did everything by rote without
any real feeling.
Initially, I wanted desperately to believe that I
was still the same ehrliche yid. It was a long time
before I realized the stark truth that the tumah
of the internet and kerah are intertwined. For
after all, when one allows his eyes and heart to
wander after the depravity of the net while he is
safely ensconced in the privacy and solitude of
his home or oce, he is essentially expressing
pure kerah. He is intrinsically denying the pres-
ence of a much higher force, Hakodosh Baruch
Hu, because if he would be aware that Hako-
dosh Baruch Hu sees and hears everything, he
certainly would never have had the guts to click
on that mouse. But, at the time, I was so bogged
down in lth that such reasoning was beyond me.
Slowly but surely, I lost every vestige of yiras
shamayim. At rst I would only miss a mincha or
the world of the internet. Dont let yourself be
trapped or you might just end up paying for it
with all that is near and dear to you. And you will
have no one to blame but yourself.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Undoubtedly, we have all heard and read about
the evils of the internet with its inherent pitfalls
and dangers. And, quite likely, there are those
among us who are tempted to think that these
alarmists are surely exaggerating. ey must
be taking things way out of context!
Well, as someone who has learned the hard
way, I am now painfully aware that these alarm-
ists are in fact realists with one caveat: If any-
thing, they are understating the perils of the in-
ternet, probably because most of them have not
been personally exposed to it, and therefore can-
not possibly know all the sordid and gory details.
Otherwise, they would surely leave no stone un-
turned to eradicate this dreadful plague.
Allow me to share my story with you:
It all began with a BlackBerry back when I
was a kollel yungerman, fully supported by my
father-in-law, unencumbered by any burden of
parnasah. I am by nature an inquisitive type and
my BlackBerry, with its ready access to the in-
ternet, swiftly opened new vistas for me. All my
free time (as well as my not so free time) was
spent searching and surng the web. is was
a big, broad new world and I just couldnt get
enough of it.
Eventually, I found the BlackBerrys small
screen rather inadequate. In order to satisfy my
insatiable desire to experience ever more, I ap-
proached a friend of mine who had a small oce
that he only used for a couple of hours a day and
got permission to use it. I ended up spending so
much time there at his computer that my friend
once remarked jokingly that he almost felt like an
intruder when he came by to conduct his busi-
ness there. at clinched it for me. I couldnt con-
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maya to encounter a group of people who dedi-
cated their time and resources to helping people
like me overcome addictions.
Today, I spend much of my time doing teshu-
vah and being mispallel that Hashem forgive
me for all that I have wrought. But I know only
too well that the decadence and indecency that
I have imbibed will not soon dissipate and will al-
ways come back to haunt me. I no longer have a
computer, but I do have a BlackBerry, albeit with
a J-net lter.
If only I could turn back the clock, I would know
now that internet addiction is not to be taken
lightly. It is as corruptive as it is addictive, and it is
far easier to be ensnared in the net than to ex-
tricate oneself from it. Trust me. I know.
a maariv, and then a shacharis. Eventually, it got
to the point where I did not step into shul from
one Shabbos to the next. My wife, of course, was
blissfully oblivious to this tragic turn of events. As
far as she was concerned, her husbands sched-
ule included shacharis, mincha, maariv, as well as
several hours in kollel. I felt myself sinking deeper
and deeper into a quagmire of decadence and
deception. But I was too powerless to extricate
myself. Every now and then I would experience
eeting pangs of remorse, but my behavior con-
tinued unchanged.
is went on until Rosh Chodesh Elul when my
brother made a bris for his newborn son in shul,
which I absolutely had to attend my absence
would have been too obvious. After davening, the
gabbai took out the shofar and blew tekiah, teruah,
tekiah. Somehow, the sound of the shofar struck
a chord in my heart, and I was gripped by an al-
most palpable pachad. Where was I headed? What
would become of me? How low could one sink? But
sadly, the yetzer horah, tapping into the power of
my addiction, quickly quashed these thoughts.
And then came Yom Kippur, the holiest day of
the year. At one point in the middle of davening,
I paused to take stock of my ruchnius, or lack of
same. I was overcome by a sudden surge of pro-
found regret. I let my tears ow unabashedly as
I thought about my abysmal state. Would Hash-
em ever forgive me? By motzei Yom Kippur I felt
cleansed. I experienced a measure of tranquility
that had eluded me for months.
I wish I could tell you that I then turned over
a new leaf and never looked at the internet
again. But sadly, the fact of the matter was
that the very next day, one day after Yom
Kippur, I was once again seated in front of the
computer surng the internet. It was as if I was
part of the internet.
Id rather not detail the anguish that my family
and I suered because of my addiction. Suce it
to say that after a long and painful odyssey, I did
recover, but only because I had the siyattah dish-
Somehow, the sound
of the shofar struck
a chord in my heart,
and I was gripped by
an almost palpable
pachad. Where was I
headed? What would
become of me? How
low could one sink?
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He just had to be connected to technology ev-
ery second of the day. I already knew that Ill be
done in ve minutes often meant endless hours.
Even when he said that at midnight, I knew that
he still had countless websites to browse before
he could part with his computer.
Strangely enough, he didnt at all consider
himself an internet addict, since he was always
busy getting things done on the computer.
But someone who is familiar with addictions
once explained to me that an addict cannot
bring himself to stop what hes doing for any
price. And it was clear that this was my hus-
bands reality. It had taken over his entire life
and I remained alone.
I felt helpless. I had no idea how to deal with it.
You sometimes hear the term living orphans. I
was a married divorcee. I was alone in the world.
I had no one to share my life with no one with
whom to share the pleasure of seeing our child
take his rst step or saying his rst words. My
husband just wasnt unavailable. He was like a
piece of wood, an inanimate object, with the ex-
ception that he ate and slept.
And if you think this was the worst it got,
read on.
My husbands addiction quickly spiraled out
of control. It might have started innocently,
but after a while he began visiting unac-
ceptable websites, to put it mildly, and that
was when his addiction reached its climax. He
simply couldnt tear himself away from the
screen. He was so attached to the internet
that he neglected his job. Needless to say, it
wasnt long before he was red.
But if you think that was enough to jolt him
out of his addiction and make him realize the dire
straits he was in, you are mistaken. In fact, it was
just the opposite. Now he had nothing to keep
him from his addiction. He stopped supporting
the family altogether. We subsisted completely
on government assistance, which was obviously
not enough to feed a family, pay the rent, elec-
When I Lost My Husband
It is not easy to talk about it, but it is crucial for
people to hear about the havoc that the internet
can leave in its wake. Until recently, I would never
have believed that the internet could so eec-
tively destroy someone. Even today, I do not en-
tirely comprehend the powerful grip it could ex-
tend to the point that a normal intelligent person
loses complete control of himself. But, simply put,
it happened to me.
Ever since my husband acquired a computer
with internet connection, I basically lost him. In
the beginning, I didnt realize how far matters
could go. I didnt want to nag him about it and al-
ways pull him away from the computer. I thought
I was being nice, but as time went on, however,
things only became worse, to the point where I
couldnt pull him away even when I desperately
wanted to.
When I sometimes took it upon myself to look
into just what he was doing on the computer, I
realized that pursuits in cyberspace were sim-
ply endless: he would search for information on
various products, scroll through dozens of news
websites, peruse politics (both within the Jew-
ish community and in the world at large), view
all kinds of clips (i.e., weddings of Chassidic Rab-
bis, silly tricks and stunts and other nonsense),
chat with pals he befriended on the internet (for
which he even set up a microphone system), play
games for hours on end, manage bank accounts,
do computer-related favors for family members
like nding the cheapest prices for anything they
might want to purchase, Googling any phone
number or address they needed, and providing
them with computerized directions to any des-
tination. And last but not least, checking for new
emails every few seconds and then forwarding
them on to others.
I felt he was interested in everything in the
world except me. I simply did not hold his inter-
est. On the rare occasions that he wasnt sitting
at the computer, he was playing with his iPod.
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the poisonous internet. It is bitter and painful.
Save your shalom bayis before it is too late.
Little Anecdotes of
Internet Victims
A businessman relates:
We once encountered a problem with our com-
puters at the oce. Everything began going ever
so slowly and freezing. I needed to call an inter-
net technician. His diagnosis was that a virus had
entered through one computer and infected the
entire network. He found the computer that had
started it all, which belonged to a certain young
man who had been working at the company for
many years.
After taking care of the problem, he showed
me the history of that computer, which includ-
ed everything our employee had been up to. It
emerged that this employee had been spending
hours on countless websites that had no con-
nection to his work duties. And I had only become
aware of this after he had been working here for
three years! (As an aside, according to the com-
puter technician, the virus had entered the com-
puter through one of the decadent websites.)
I was surprised that I hadnt caught onto it
earlier, and I couldnt even say that I wouldve
guessed it from the young mans demeanor. I had
never even suspected him.
I immediately summoned the culprit and sum-
marily informed him that he was no longer wel-
come to work at our oce. I also told him that he
might want to ask a Rav if he wasnt required to
compensate us for the many hours he stole from
the business. He broke down, crying and plead-
ing with me to give him another chance. I did not
have the heart to refuse him, and I agreed to
give him another chance. But I immediately lim-
ited his internet access by creating a whitelist,
which only allowed him access to specic, pre-
approved sites. I only regret that I hadnt done it
three years earlier.
tricity and water bills. But he didnt care. I pleaded
and cajoled, but to no avail. It was as if I was talk-
ing to the wall.
He kept a crazy schedule. He woke up in the
morning, rummaged through the pantry and the
fridge, looking for food. en he went into his
computer room, locked the door and remained
inside all day. He browsed the most depraved of
websites and watched a host of immoral lms. In
the evenings, he came out and gruy demanded
dinner. After devouring his meal in solitude, he re-
turned to his dark world and once again isolated
himself from his family and the rest of the nor-
mal world. ere was no good night to the chil-
dren, no questions about how their day had been.
Nothing. Zero.
I cannot begin to tell you how many tears
I shed during that period of my life. I wept and
grieved, but kept my pain to myself. I was
ashamed to speak to anyone about it, and I
tried my best to ensure the children didnt feel
they were lacking something because they
didnt have a father.
And so I suered in silence until it came to a
point that I could no longer keep quiet. One day,
my husband apparently forgot to lock the door
of the computer room, and one of the children
abruptly pushed the door open.
My husband leaped up and tried to cover the
screen, but it was too late. To this day, I dont
know just what the child saw. But, my husband
lunged out of the room, ranting like a madman.
How come I couldnt take proper care of the chil-
dren? Why couldnt I teach them not to bother
their father when he was busy? at was when
I fell apart. e fact that it had come to a point
where my childrens spiritual and physical well-
being was in jeopardy because their father was
addicted to the worst of the internet broke me
completely, and I decided that the time had come
to demand a divorce.
Dear mothers and wives, dont let it come to
that. Dont let your family go to ruin because of
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A young man relates:
Years ago, my father had a computer in our
house. After hearing so much about the hav-
oc such a hazardous piece of technology could
wreak on a home, he decided to throw it out. I tried
to convince him that it wasnt necessary, that we
only used it once in a while to play games, but he
persisted. at night, he followed through on his
word, and discarded the computer in the trash.
I was still a young bachur, but I knew enough
about computers to understand that I could get
my moneys worth from this. e following
day, I awoke at dawn and retrieved the computer
from the trash and brought it into our cluttered,
rarely-used basement.
Now it was all mine. Over the next few years, I
wasted countless hours sitting at that computer.
I spent many hours with that old computer and
tried to x it myself on countless occasions, and
with time I became a real expert in computers.
Today, my skill has led me to become a computer
technician.
My father did not dream, at least not until af-
ter my wedding, that this is what his actions had
brought me to. But for me, it was a real lesson
about how one can never be too careful. ough
he had decided to take the warnings to heart and
throw the computer out, it was already too late. I
had found a way to outsmart him.
Another lesson I learned from this story: if
there is something I dont want my children to
have, I discard it in a dumpster far away from my
house. Seriously, in my home today, though its
not easy, we dont have a computer at all. Nobody
has to convince me that children can often out-
smart their parents.
A man told us:
I always wondered about my neighbor who had
teenagers in the house and a computer with in-
ternet access. I actually liked the fact that when
I needed internet access from time to time I could
A woman relates:
Years ago when I was in school, we had com-
puters on which we learned to use various pro-
grams like Word, Excel, etc.
Several students, 16- and 17-year-old girls,
came up with a way to connect the computers to
the internet. Incredibly, this occurred in one of our
heimishe schools.
ey didnt get very far with it and they did it
more for the thrill of it, not because they were
actually bent on searching the internet. But it
was enough to demonstrate that even in school,
where one would imagine that our children are
most secure, the girls managed to access the in-
ternet. e school administration is probably still
unaware of this incident.
I felt he was interested in
everything in the world
except me. I simply did
not hold his interest. He
just had to be connected
to technology every
second of the day.
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whose internet my son had been able to tap into,
to do something about his internet connection.
I dont want to think about what could have
happened if we hadnt caught on in time.
A man tells us that his friend, a ben Torah in his
fties with a large family of older children, once
asked if he could come up to his oce to down-
load Shas from the computer onto a CD. e man
readily agreed.
So this ben Torah arrived at the oce around 5
oclock in the afternoon and began downloading.
e downloading process was supposed to take
about two hours, and our man had to leave the
oce. He told his friend he was leaving and that
when he was done he could shut the computer
and lock the door.
e next morning, at about 6 AM, when the
owner came back to work, he noticed that the
go to his house and use his computer. However, I
often took the father to task, warning him about
the dangers of the internet, and questioning his
awareness of the perils it posed in a home.
He always waved my concerns away, assur-
ing me that he knew all about how to protect his
children. He was himself computer-savvy and
controlled the amount of time they spent on it.
He would also explain that his children were good,
ehrlich and obedient and were not even inter-
ested in the bad stu. In short, they would not be
hurt by the computer.
After a while, I moved away from the neighbor-
hood, so I dont know exactly how events un-
folded. But I do know that today, all those good,
ehrliche children look very dierent these days.
Some of the boys have fallen far away from Yid-
dishkeit and the daughters do not bring much na-
chas to the family, either.
Every time I see these adult children and the
state they are in, it breaks my heart. I remember
the fathers self-assurance and I cant get over
how drastically they have changed. Sometimes I
even blame myself for not being more persistent
in my warnings to the father. It is a vivid, painful
lesson for me every day.
A father relates:
We had a laptop in our home which we used for
various things, but it wasnt connected to the in-
ternet. At least thats what we thought.
Imagine how stunned we were when our young
bachur, part of a new generation that knows much
more about technology than we do, discovered
the fact that the laptop can pick up internet sig-
nals from the neighbors internet service. (Wi Fi.)
We caught him red-handed several weeks
after his discovery. He really is an innocent kid
and only used it to play around and for harm-
less nonsense. But the potential for danger was
not lost on me. I couldnt throw the computer
out because we really needed it, but we locked
it up very securely and also asked the neighbor
One Sunday, with her
parents away, the girl
invited a classmate
and friend to join her
in her activities on the
internet. is went on
for a year and a half.
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One evening, the parents left for a simchah,
leaving their older daughter home to babysit. Af-
ter a while, she became bored and entered her
fathers private room. It didnt take her long to
locate the key, and she sat down to spend some
time at the computer.
e next time her parents left for the evening,
she had already formulated her plan and quickly
made herself comfortable at her fathers com-
puter. Gradually, the enjoyment of it began to
grow on her, until she actually began looking for-
ward to the times she would have to babysit. e
girl was 15 at the time.
One Sunday, with her parents away, the girl
invited a classmate and friend to join her in her
activities on the internet. is went on for a year
and a half, with the girl spending every second
she could on the internet, and her friend joining
her whenever possible. e friend also began
bringing along CDs she had picked up some-
where. en, the father took the computer out
of the home, not because he suspected anything
but because he had switched jobs and needed
the computer at work.
e parents never discovered what had hap-
pened until she revealed it to them after she
was married. ey found it dicult to believe
that their young daughter was able to pull that
o. But they would nd it far more dicult to
believe the kinds of things I did on the internet,
the woman tells us. I have never told them the
details; it would break their hearts. But it would
certainly help them understand some of my be-
havior at that time for which they didnt have any
explanation then. ey can now also understand
why I always urged them to go out at night be-
cause I just loved babysitting.
Believe me, she concludes, not only do I bar
any computer or internet from my home, but I was
against my husband taking a job with internet ac-
cess. In the end, I was forced to give up my battle
and J-net was installed at a very high, restric-
tive setting. Even with all that, it still bothers me. I
know all too well what the internet is all about.
light in the window was on. He was sure that his
friend had left it on by mistake. When he entered
the oce, his shock knew no bounds when he
found his friend still sitting at the computer, glued
to the screen. e ben Torah blushed and mum-
bled some excuse about having problems with
the downloading and how everything took much
longer than expected. He excused himself and
left the oce.
Curious, the owner checked his computer and
discovered that the Shas had nished download-
ing at nine oclock the previous evening. When
he searched the history to see what his friend
had been busy with for so many hours, he was
shocked. Apparently, his ehrliche, middle-aged
friend had spent a whole night prowling the inter-
net and visiting sites that were far from appropri-
ate for any yirei shamayim.
He decided to be frank with his friend and ask
him about it. His friend shamefully admitted that
he did in fact have serious problems every time
he found himself with access to the internet.
It shook me to the very core to realize that the
internet can entrap even people of his caliber,
the man told us. I would never have believed it. I
had always wondered why people were making
such a hullabaloo over the internet while it didnt
pose any serious problems for me. But today, I
understand it all too well. I asked my son-in-law
to put a good lter on his smart phone and in re-
turn promised to pay his entire cell phone bill. I can
tell you this much, that if I were a wealthy man the
rst thing I would do with my money would be to
sponsor J-net or any other good internet lter for
every single Jew. I would even fund the telephone
bills of those who put lters on their phones. It is,
in my opinion, the greatest mitzvah one can per-
form with his money today.
A family had a computer at home, locked
in the fathers private room. e parents were
completely secure with the knowledge that none
of the children had any access to it. e reality,
however, was very dierent.
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Challenge of the Times
E
very epoch has its challenges. Every generation has its demons. When thinking
about a terrible era such as the Holocaust we may think that we have it easy. And
we may in many ways. But that only makes the challenge of our times that much
more deceptively dicult. Make no mistake about it: todays challenge in many ways is the
most dicult in history. Certainly, if we dont recognize the challenge for what it is and do
something about it, it threatens to sweep us away like a tsunami. Yes, that challenge is the
internet the easy connectivity we have to the world, including its worst inuences. No one
can uproot the internet from our lives, but working together we can neutralize the threat...
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I
n the course of our wanderings over the last
two millennia, the Jewish people have been
beset by the most brutal enemies: Romans,
Crusaders, Inquisitors, Cossacks, Czars, Em-
perors, Sultans, Nazis, Palestinian terrorists,
Ahmadinejad. Did I leave anyone out?
Over the past two centuries, particularly
in America in the past 50 years, Jews were
faced with a new challenge: assimilation. Gone
are Pharaoh, Haman and Hitler. In their place is
emancipation and freedom. Rather than cow-
ering from the stick, now we are enticed by the
carrot.
With emancipation, the Jew was oered en-
ticing opportunities to partake of the greater
culture. He sat at Achashveroshs table, so to
speak, alongside the other nations, being wined
and dined on the delights of the modern world.
To the early assimilationists, it was the dawn-
ing of a new era, a dream come true. ey were
proud to become lost in the new European cul-
ture and then in the American melting pot.
However, eventually Jews realized that
in partaking of this newly found emancipa-
tion, they slowly began to lose their sense of
a unique destiny, their special role in the larger
world. Moreover, the emancipators turned out
to be not as sincere and not as friendly as they
rst thought. e more the Jew succeeded in
the Gentiles world, the more he became an ob-
ject of scorn. And then came the Holocaust.
Our rise from the ashes has indeed been as-
tounding, unprecedented in the history of the
world. A small core of dedicated and sincere
Jews became the seed of a new beginning.
Gedolim and leading layman fought valiantly to
create a comprehensive infrastructure of To-
rah institutions to educate the next generation.
ey oversaw the implementation of guidelines
for behavior in our newest home in America.
ey strove to rebuild the sense of a Jewish
community, an identity that would protect our
distinction as the nation of G-d.
Instead of collapsing, our people have thrived
like never before. Yeshivos, kolelim, Bais Yaa-
kovs and shuls sprouted up all over, and Torah
study and observance are on a scale perhaps
not seen for over a century. It was all over. At-
tempts to break the Jewish people failed miser-
ably.
Until the internet.
Instead of beguiling the Jews to leave the
safety of their homes and blend in to their sur-
roundings, the surroundings are being brought
right into our homes! Remain in your own home,
in a separate Jewish community. No need to
change your clothes to t in, no need to give up
your Shabbos cholent. Keep lighting your me-
norah. Keep going about every aspect of your
life as a ne Jew. No need to go out and buy a
television, only to have to hide it from your
neighbors. No video screen, not even a com-
puter! We have it down to a palm-sized device,
right there masquerading as your innocent cell
phone. No one will ever know. Just keep it safely
in your pocket until everyone is out of sight.
Now, take it out, look for that info you needed
to nd and.
Bam!
Got you!
Every sin ever invented all wrapped up in one
pocket-sized device. Even if youre discovered,
you can always excuse yourself with the argu-
ment that you absolutely must use it for your
business. And there are so many Torah-orient-
ed activities and sites that you want to visit. In
fact, who said you will ever need to misuse it at
all? Just mind your own business and look only
at what you need. Outwardly, you may resem-
ble a Jew, but inwardly there is nothing Jewish
about you.
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a powerful tool for aveira without the slightest
bit of protection and still consider ourselves re-
sponsible Jews?
Even those who are compelled by their
work to access the internet must treat it with
the proper caution it demands. Would anyone
choose to stand in a bull ring for one second
more than necessary if there were a wild bull
raging? Or, in the words of the late Rosh Ye-
shiva Harav Reuven Grozovsky , would any
person in his right mind remain for one extra
second amid the unpleasant stench of an out-
house? Each time a person connects to the in-
ternet he must realize that he is standing at the
edge of a precipice and the fall is so far that the
ground below cannot even be seen. n:nu o..
:nnn ::e depths of Hell are revealed be-
neath him.
Statistics show that a typical browser chang-
es screens every two minutes. Links permit one
to connect to new sites tens of times a minute.
If one site does not catch you, the next one will.
Surng the web means dodging burning coals
as they are falling from the sky like hail. What
are the chances of avoiding burns? Of emerg-
ing alive?
All-In-One
e purpose of the internet, as envisioned by
the technicians who created it and the govern-
ment ocials who promoted it, is to create an
information superhighway by which all peo-
ple everywhere can share ideas and informa-
tion with everyone else. Its very nature then, is
to connect diverse elements and bring every-
thing together.
From the perspective of a Jew who knows
that his purpose in the world is to serve his Cre-
ator, this means that the internet is also a tool to
Of all the many traps facing the Jewish people
in its long trek through history, none has come
close to this latest ruse. e best has been
saved for last. Just as Mashiach nally seems
to be perched on the doorstep, the most potent
poison of all is released. And the devastation it
is leaving in its wake is absolutely horrifying.
Challenging Times
Hashem, in His innite wisdom, saw t to al-
low the internet to be introduced in our day and
age. It is our weak generation, battered by the
tests of so many centuries, that is being con-
fronted with the nisayon of mod-
ern technology. Yet the Torah
response is timeless. ere is
no question that unltered use
of the internet is completely
forbidden, no ifs, ands or buts.
Why then is it that we dont
automatically wrinkle our noses
in disdain whenever we see it?
Why dont we avoid it with the
same implicit disgust with which
we would run from pork? e an-
swer is that the internet ques-
tion has been settled de facto.
e internet has already wended
its way into our daily lives, into
our conscience, and it is no longer
possible to simply uproot it from our midst.
e internet not only exposes things going
on around the world, but also creates virtual re-
alities that do not exist anywhere else. It is es-
timated today that there are around 366 million
websites. If only 1% of them were treife, that
would still mean more than 3.5 million forbid-
den sites. In reality, the overwhelming majority
include forbidden text, images and ideas. How
then can we in good faith walk around with such
A Jew who enters
this crowd can
circulate without
his yarmulke, with
no identifying
features to brand
him as a member
of the holy nation
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able at any time right in ones own home. And
the list goes on.
Because it is always accessible, 24/7, a per-
son need not be entirely dissolute to be trapped.
You can stand strong day after day and resist
the temptation to sin. e internet is patient and
will wait quietly to manipulate you in your
moment of weak-
ness. irty days
may go by without
sinning. Dont worry.
e internet will still
be there for you on
day 31. You had a hard
day and need something
to distract your mind,
and just when you let your
guard down... everything is
there just for you.
You recoil from what you
see and pulling yourself together
you log o. But the internet is a dicult en-
emy to shake. e memory of what you saw
and the thrill you felt will nag at you. You just
have to see it againbut you wont look at any-
thing else. You return to that site, but it doesnt
give you the same rush as the rst time. One
more second, theres something else here that
looks really interesting you are trapped in the
web.
Whereas in the past, weak individuals sinned
in private, today they drag others along with
them. e internet has raised the science of
temptation to all new heights.
Look at the prayer we recite after the morn-
ings daily berachos: o: :.:nu .u:n [:.
:.: y. o+un o.u n::yn o.u :yn o: :.a: Save
us today and every day from the brazen, from
brazenness, from wicked people and from the
destructive Satan. Is there any item on that
provide access to every type of vice to which
a human may stoop. e internet provides
an opening for each person to fall prey to his
unique weaknesses.
Lets take the individual who has a weak spot
for gossip. He or she just loves to hear what
is going on in the world and in the neighbors
home, and cannot hold back from sharing this
gossip with others. One day he discovers the
internet and now he has a means of gather-
ing slander from all over the world and
sharing it with millions of poten-
tial listeners. Business has
never been so good!
Another person
has a hot tem-
per and is con-
stantly getting
into ghts and
disagreements
with others. Words
y bitterly and it is only by a
miracle that the sts do not join in. Now that
person is introduced to the Word Wide Web.
Instead of sleeping on the matter and cool-
ing down by the following day, they can act
immediately by sharing their anger with mil-
lions of others instantaneously. e ames of
machlokes can be fanned like never before.
e impulsive shopper no longer has to wait
for good weather and the availability of the car
to head for the nearest mall and spend a day
throwing out hard-earned money on expen-
sive items that will never be used. ere isnt
even an opportunity to sleep on a decision. At
the press of a few buttons they can have the
thrill of spending more than they could ever af-
ford without even having to get out of bed!
e person with a weak spot for inappropri-
ate entertainment need not risk exposure by
heading to the seedy side of town. Its all avail-
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tinue to go through their daily lives as before,
continue to go through the motions of main-
taining the Torah observant way of life, yet in-
side they have rotted completely.
How many boys continue to attend yeshiva,
how many girls continue to attend Bais Yaakov,
yet their hearts and minds are plugged up by
what they have learned elsewhere. e delica-
cies they are served by their rabbeim and mo-
ros cannot compete with the junk food and pork
they gorge in secrecy. e young man who sits
next to you in shul with tallis and tellin may feel
completely estranged from his own actions as
a result of tasting from the illicit waters. ese
people are going through the motions, while on
the inside they have hardened into something
not Jewish.
It begins with running late for davening; next
the daily shiur is dropped. How many mothers
and wives learned only months later that the
all-important shiur was really a daily chavrusa
with Mr. Internet? Minchah falls to the wayside
and eventually the entire faade is dropped.
Why bother dressing as a frum Jew when there
is nothing frum about the person anymore?
And that only covers the people who have
been destroyed entirely. What about all those
who use the internet at work and only occa-
sionally come across inappropriate material?
If only we could have all internet users ll out a
secret poll about how many times they chanced
upon disgusting photos, lashon hara, immoral
movies and clips, we would learn very quickly
just how safe internet use really is. Better yet:
How many frum internet users would willingly
submit to having the log of all the websites they
visited in the past 12 months publicized for the
entire world to see?
e rst alarm was raised, in fact, by com-
puter technicians. ey are the only ones who
have free access to view what their fellow Jews
list that cannot be found in all its graphic glory
on the internet?
e Terrible Virus
If users would contract a fatal disease each
time they logged on to the internet, there would
be no need for a mass symposium to describe
the danger to the public. e internet would in-
stantly be outlawed. Sadly, users are dropping
like ies; we just dont see it.
We have all heard individual stories of whole-
some youths who became troubled after expe-
riencing the internet. Shabbos,
yeshiva and the practice of Ju-
daism all fell to the wayside. We
have heard even more horrify-
ing stories of families that have
been irrevocably destroyed as a
result of the internet. We cluck
and shake our heads. Its too bad
that 1% of our people are being
burned.
But wait, is it really just 1%?
Or are we lulling ourselves into a
false sense of security? Accord-
ing to those who work with trou-
bled youths, the rate is far higher.
So say also those who deal with
s h a l o m bayis issues. And the dayanim who
serve on the Bais Din for gittin. And the rab-
bonim who are involved in all of these cases and
more. It becomes apparent that the true toll of
internet casualties is higher, probably shock-
ingly higher, than any of us can imagine. What
we have seen and heard is only the tip of the
iceberg.
We must realize that to be honest with our-
selves we cannot count only those who have
openly dropped their former lifestyle as a result
of internet exposure. ere are many who con-
Its too bad that
1% of our people
are being burned.
But wait, is it really
just 1%? Or are we
lulling ourselves
into a false sense
of security?
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billion internet users around the globe. It should
also bear witness to the terrible addiction which
results from connecting to this universe of in-
formation.
ese statistics should also go a long way
toward explaining why no self-respecting Jew
who is aware of his elevated status and purpose
in this world has any business wiring his mind to
the rest of the worlds population. If so many
precious hours are being wasted by the general
population, how many Jewish hours were lost?
Just how addictive is the internet? Studies
have been performed to discover how strong
the attraction is. In one such survey, a major-
ity of participants responded that they would
sooner give up all of their other interests and
pleasures rather than give up the internet. An-
other study of 20,000 people in 20 developed
countries showed that 73% would give up al-
cohol to keep the internet. 10% were prepared
to give up driving to retain internet access. 83%
would let go of buying prepared food prod-
ucts.
Lets face it. Plenty of internet users read-
ily skip a breakfast, a lunch or a dinner because
they cannot tear themselves away from the
screen. at means the web is more important
to them than nutrition. at is what we call in
English an addiction.
In one extreme case, a couple in Korea would
spend 12 hours a day away from home on the
internet. ey would run home once a day to
feed their three-year-old daughter. She died
of dehydration and malnutrition. ere have
been incidents of people who assaulted and
even shot others for posting negative com-
ments or embarrassing photos about them.
One 15-year-old shot his own father after his
internet privileges were revoked. e problem
of the internet being used by teenagers to at-
tack and ridicule others and the resulting emo-
were doing in the privacy of their own oces
and homes. When they began to realize what
seemingly respectable men and women were
stooping to, they ran to the rabbonim crying,
We are in deep, deep trouble!
Everyone knows that it is dangerous to log
onto the internet without any antivirus protec-
tion. ere are literally thousands of worms,
viruses, Trojan horses and other forms of spy-
ware that are out to get you. ey steal your
personal information, destroy your computer
and expose you to criminals who are there to
hurt you and take advantage of you. Does ex-
posing yourself to even worse spiritual dangers
deserve any less concern?
Deadly Attraction
107 Trillion.
With a T.
No, were not talking about the federal de-
cit. Were talking about the number of e-mails
that were sent over the past decade. at av-
erages nearly 30 billion e-mail messages per
day. Admittedly, the vast majority of those are
junk mail, receipts and automatic responses,
but there are still plenty of messages left over
to keep people busy all day.
Add to that 152 million blogs, 25 billion Twitter
messages that are sent out per year, 50 billion
notices on Facebook per month, 2 billion videos
viewed on YouTube per day, over 5 billion pho-
tos already posted on Flickr, another 36 billion
pictures that are uploaded to another popular
site each year, the over 366 million websites
now in existence and millions more that are be-
ing added each year.
e above information should give you an
idea of how many billions of hours are being
spent on nonsense or worse by the estimated 2
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in a restaurant and spends the entire time talk-
ing on her phone, she is guilty of committing the
same crime of abandoning her children. (I only
witnessed this recently, but Im sure it is a daily
event.) And if the father must check his phone
rst thing after arriving home motzaei Shabbos
before even bothering to wish his family Gut
voch, then they are essentially fatherless.
Technology has also reduced everything we
take seriously to the mere butt of a joke. is
past Tisha BAv, by the time we got up from the
nighttime reading of Eichah, there were political
translations of the Megillah, pictures of various
rabbis sitting on their stools and text messages
making light of the mourning circulating all over.
Imagine what the Seder night would look like
had the Torah not have forbidden melachos that
include the use of electronic items. e father
in his kittel would interrupt his recital to e-mail
a clip of the youngest reciting Mah Nishtana
with that cute lisp. e account of our slavery
and delivery from Mitzrayim would take second
place to the texts poking fun at the most mean-
ingful aspects of the evening.
is widespread irreverence completely un-
dermines our chinuch. It is has eroded our most
basic values and created an atmosphere in
which nothing we preach is taken seriously. It is
destroying us as a nation of servants of Hash-
em in a way that nothing we have ever faced
before could have done.
World Fair
Imagine that once each a year a major in-
ternational fair is held at the Javitz Conference
Center in Manhattan. People from all over the
world get together for several days to share
business ideas, exchange news, meet friends
and just enjoy themselves. For the sake of
equality, everyone dresses similarly and wears
tional issues has become so alarming that in
2006 the CDC (Center for Disease Control, a
federal agency) called a conference to address
the crisis.
While all these cases involve non-Jews, it
is important to realize that we are playing the
same game of Russian roulette as they are. e
consequences cannot possibly lag far behind.
It has been documented in the medical world
that internet users who are blocked access to
the web suer the same physical withdrawal
symptoms as hard-core drug abusers. In one
case, students were denied access entirely
and 79% reported suering severe edginess
and depression. It would be extremely foolish
for anyone to convince them-
selves that they are above in-
ternet addiction.
e Jewish world has suf-
fered its share as well. In one
case, several years ago, a man
was spending night and day
tied to his screen. His wife com-
plained that she could not go on
living with a husband like that
and he would have to choose be-
tween the internet and his family.
By then it was too late. He chose
the internet.
But the situation does not have to be so ex-
treme. Even those who do not drop out of life
entirely nd that the internet has them bound
up suciently to materially interfere with their
lives. When a parent sits down to supper with
one hand holding the fork and the other his
smartphone, from which he cannot unglue his
eyes, that parent may be sitting with the fam-
ily in a technical sense, but the children realize
they are technology orphans. eir emotional
needs cannot compete with the lure of the web.
When a mother sits down with her children
How many
mothers and
wives learned only
months later that
the all-important
shiur was really
a daily chavrusa
with Mr. Internet?
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us if we met them in person and knew who they
were. Yet every wild statement posted on the
internet sears itself into the mind of its viewers.
Nor are the Jewish news sites any better.
Perhaps they are far worse, as they present the
opinions of the infamous self-haters, the drop-
outs from our community who are not satised
to leave the frum life behind them but must take
cheap pot shots at the community as well.
We are so careful not to eat food until we see
at least some sort of hechsher. We may even
refrain from buying a sefer until we see a has-
kama (approbation) from a familiar rabbinical
name. How is it then that we can trust ourselves
to study the words of people whose beliefs and
guiding principles are directly at odds with ev-
erything we hold dear?
Assimilated Jews
You and Me?
We have read the stories of the impossible
trials of keeping Shabbos in America during the
early part of the previous century. e green-
horns who came from Europe were immedi-
ately mocked by the established Jews who told
them there was no future for religion in the New
World. ose who ignored the derision, the dar-
ing few, soon discovered that the words they
had been told were a reality. ere was no way
to nd a job if one insisted on keeping Shabbos.
And so a new Jew developed, Jews who
would wear a yarmulke and keep kosher but
go to work on Shabbos. ere were hashkama
minyanim for the workers to nish the lon-
ger Shabbos morning prayers early enough to
reach their jobs in time for the opening of the
doors.
Looking back with the hindsight of over 50
a name tag that may or may not reect the
name they go by at home.
It sounds like a wonderful thing, cultural dis-
semination and all. But after the rst year, the
reputation the conference earns is not as rosy
as its promoters would like to have the unsus-
pecting public believe. Sure, theres plenty of
business opportunities being exchanged, peo-
ple nd themselves jobs and all, but the break-
down of normal social boundaries has led to an
atmosphere of general debauchery that would
make anyone from the previous generation
blush.
Would a Jew be permitted to attend such an
event?
at conference is now taking place every
nanosecond and its bringing together 2.3 bil-
lion anonymous people from around the world.
You can access it anytime, anywhere (to para-
phrase the favored slogan of the US Armys
Special Forces). e worst aspects of human-
ity are being shared and everyone knows that it
has a tawdry reputation. A Jew who enters this
crowd can circulate without his yarmulke, with
no identifying features to brand him as a mem-
ber of the holy nation. It may take only seconds
for someone to forget their inner connection
with their people under such circumstances.
e setting encourages some to display their
knowledge, others their sense of humor, and
yet others their ability to mock authority. e
irreverent attitude is all-pervasive. And since
no one knows who you are, there is nothing to
worry about, no one to be embarrassed of.
Studies have shown that the written word is
often taken at face value when the same idea
would have been rejected outright had it been
presented orally. e articles, observations,
notes and blogs read on the internet come from
people whose opinions would mean nothing to
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we be guilty of making the same mistake, of
ignoring such a basic division that protects our
unique identity and still believe that somehow
the glorious tradition of our past will continue to
blossom through our children? Can we aord to
be so nave?
So much of our nation was lost during the
Holocaust because of their refusal to stare the
danger in the face and respond appropriate-
ly. It wont happen to us. It cant be as bad as
theyre making it out. Come on, this is the 20
th

century. Who really believes such medieval
stories today?
Instead of taking the eyewitness accounts
for the truths that they were and seeking any
possible means of escape, these people walked
blindly right into the trap that had been set
for themsadly, the very trap they had been
warned about by the few survivors who had
made it out.
So long as we dare to deny the facts, to deny
the seriousness of the situation, to ignore the
many fatalities that have already occurred, we
are allowing ourselves to be drawn blindly into
the trap set for us.
e secular world has already woken up to the
fact that the internet is not all fun and games. In
China, where internet addiction plagues millions
of youths, over 200 boot camps have been set
up under military-style control of active sol-
diers where children are prevented from ac-
cessing any technological device whatsoever.
ey must follow a strict daily regimen that in-
cludes labor and dicult exercises. ose who
broke camp regulations were beaten or sub-
jected to lengthy shock treatment, until several
accidental fatalities aroused a storm of protests
and the government was forced to crack down.
While we do not propose setting up a similar
years, we nd it dicult to comprehend. We
understand that the temptation was over-
whelming, but how could a person consider
themselves an Orthodox, practicing Jew if they
were transgressing Shabbos?!
Imagine what future generations will say of
us in 50 years. I cant understand it. How could
you consider yourself a respectable Jew when
you were using the internet without a lter? I
understand that the temptation was unbear-
able, you could not support
yourself without it (?), but still
a frum Jew on the internet?!
Stop and think about it. Are
we not guilty of allowing our-
selves to lose the most impor-
tant aspects of our Jewish iden-
tity, even as we keep Shabbos
and kashrus, even as we daven
and learn, even as we support a
Torah infrastructure on a scale
the world has never seen before?
Are we not turning ourselves into
assimilated Jews?
And if we are to look at the ba-
rometer of history, mustnt we be
concerned that our children will
soon be lost to the Jewish nation
as a result of the internet, just as
so many thousands of Jewish chil-
dren were lost in the melting pot of
America as a result of chillul Shab-
bos?
At the time, most Jews probably
did not even realize that they were sealing their
childrens fate by accepting the fact of chillul
Shabbos. But we know that there was no hope
for Jewish continuity when such a basic mitz-
vah was being trampled upon, however exten-
uating the circumstances may have been. Dare
When a parent sits
down to supper
with one hand
holding the fork
and the other his
Smartphone, from
which he cannot
unglue his eyes,
that parent may
be sitting with
their family in a
technical sense,
but the children
realize they
are technology
orphans
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countable for our apathy, we will not be able to
say that we had not been warned.
Conclusion
We are standing at the threshold of Mashiach.
Our gedolim have been saying for generations
that America would be the nal galus. e dra-
matic, exponential increase in the nisyonos is
perhaps the best oracle that prophesies the
imminent arrival of the Geulah.
e Mashgiach, Harav Matisyahu Solomon
uu:u, has emerged as a top general in this bat-
tle. He has repeated innumerable times that the
internet is the nal and ultimate test, the last
hurdle we will have to jump to earn the redemp-
tion we have awaited for 2,000 years. We have
withstood every trial of our faithfulness until
now; now is not the time to shrink back in fear
and satisfy ourselves with platitudes.
Behind the terrible test, we can feel the
Shechinah looking to us, begging us to stand up
to the nal and ultimate trial. You have shown
your loyalty through thick and thin. You have
continued to study and uphold the Torah as I
originally handed it to Moshe; you have adapted
the halachos to each new circumstance I have
led you through. You daven to Me, celebrate My
Shabbos. Now show Me: Are you truly ready to
set aside everything materially important to
you for My sake? u:u [:c. :a : +:ny nn u;aa
unn [a u: n:.:uu. :.nuI beg you, for My
sake, dont buckle under now!
If we tackle the challenge of our generation
with the earnestness it needs, if we stand to-
gether as a nation united in its resolve to work
together for the glory of Hashem, then we will
have earned the Divine assistance and protec-
tion that Mashiach will bring us as we are re-
moved once and forever from our exile among
the nations of the world :u:. [:: ua:.
rehabilitation system, the intensity of the re-
sponse by the non-Jewish world should tell us
something about the severity of the problem
and how it is meant to be handled. We stand
to lose much more than any other nation if our
identifying features are erased from the next
generation. Should we be any less serious than
they in our response to the crisis?
We must begin to admit to ourselves the na-
ture of the disgusting and horrendous trap set
for us. We must evince at least the same horror
we show when confronted by a harmless spider
regarding internet use in our midst.
Technology is a potent tool. While we have
concentrated for the most part on the inter-
net itself, much should also be spoken about
the problems inherent in the universal access
provided by e-mail, in the constant connection
created by cell phone use (without internet),
and especially the dangers of text messaging.
Perhaps in no other area have the guidelines
of tznius between living people been crossed,
trampled upon and entirely removed. ese are
all points not only to consider but to act upon.
Acting individually will get little done. I can
keep the internet out of my home, but that
doesnt guarantee that my children wont en-
joy using it at their friends homes. If we work
together, however, spreading the message that
unltered, unrestricted internet is absolutely
not an option for anyone, that unnecessary
access will not be tolerated, then we can begin
ridding our community of the terrible terror
network that operates in our midst.
Our rabbonim have spread the alarm. It is up
to us, however, to face the reality and respond
accordingly. e re is burning out of control; it
is spreading quickly to our own homes. When
we arrive in the World of Truth and are held ac-
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Like it or not, Yitzy would declare brashly to
anyone who would listen, the internet is here to
stay. Its been a fact of life for the past 10 years,
and theres nothing anyone can do to change
that. And let me tell you, its doing a lot of good
for the world. Filters? ose are for kids. Im a
responsible adult. I dont need to have my life
ltered. e last thing I need for my fast grow-
ing online business is a lter thats going to block
whatever I need to access. You cant operate a
serious business like that.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Y
itzy was having a bad day. Perhaps bad
month would be more accurate. For
weeks, all Yitzy heard about was the up-
coming asifa, the gathering where over 40,000
Jews from all walks would unite in a baseball sta-
dium to listen to the call of the gedolim about the
challenge of technology today.
Whats so bad about that?
Future
e-Ramifications
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manipulating the opportunities oered by the
internet to advance his fast-growing business.
What would I do without the internet? was
his oft-repeated refrain. My bread, my future is
thanks to the internet.
While klal Yisrael was gearing up to wage its
battle against the internet, Yitzy was preoc-
cupied with a personal milestone. His oldest
son, Yossi, was going to turn three immediately
after Shavuos and they would celebrate his rst
haircut in a manner betting an up-and-coming
businessman. What a party this upsherin was
going to be! Both sets of proud grandparents
were going to participate and Yitzy had to make
sure that everything was going to be just right.
ere was no time for Yitzy to waste on such
foolishness as a mass symposium in baseball
stadiums to counter the perceived threat of
the internet.
Im not a pessimist or alarmist. Im a realist. I
dont live with false illusions. e internet is here
and we might as well make peace with it!
Yitzy had promised his wife that he would be
available that Sunday to help with the prepara-
tions.
When Yitzy put his two precious young chil-
dren to bed the night before, it had been with a
sour face. at asifa was coming out of his ears.
All people were talking about wherever he went
was: the tremendous kiddush Hashem, all the
gedolim are going to be there, its the event of a
lifetime; we cant aord to miss it!
After mussaf, the gabbai had reminded ev-
eryone to go to the asifa, and at shalosh seudos
the Rav had spoken about the signicance of
the asifa. Asifa! Asifa! Asifa! Had everyone gone
mad? Didnt anyone realize that the Citield
event was nonsense built on fantasies?
Now Yitzy made a rm decision to push the
business out of his mind and attend to the re-
ally signicant matters waiting for him. First he
would get a good nights sleep, though. He was
Didnt you see the iers and brochures?
Yitzys childhood friend Yonah asked him inno-
cently. Every gadol has joined in decrying the
internet and is warning of the terrible danger it
poses. ey say we have to unite to uproot its
terrible inuence. Countless people have already
succumbed to the harmful eects of the inter-
net. Its worming its way deeper and deeper into
our lives, and if we dont halt its advance in time
it will be.
Dont be a fool! Yitzy cut o his friend. You
want to tell me about the internet? If anyone in
our crowd knows the internet, its me. And let
me tell you, theyre blowing the whole thing out
of proportion. So what if there have been a few
cases of people who went o? ats because
they didnt know when to stop. Everything in
this world can be abused. Why, you can die from
drinking too much tap water!
But its taking over our lives more and more.
Come on. ats a conspiracy theory. eyre
saying that to scare you into following their
agenda. And their agenda is to make sure klal
Yisrael remains in the Middle Ages! To use the
internet you have to have a computer. All parents
need to worry about is that their children dont
use the computer irresponsibly. I dont need to sit
in a stadium for hours to hear speeches about a
non-existent problem.
Judging by his words, one might believe that
Yitzy is some sort of expert on internet. Truth
be told, his highly touted online electronics retail
business was altogether a few months old, and
so far he hadnt made enough sales to cover
even his minimal start-up costs. He wasnt such
an expert on the internet either, or he would
have learned by now how to link his website to
others in similar elds so people would learn the
well-kept secret of its existence.
But Yitzy made sure to keep the hard facts
carefully hidden from others. As far as his friends
and acquaintances knew, he was successfully
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companies sold their excess stock for a pittance.
He purchased their entire stock at a signicant
reduction, leaving the suppliers with a neat prot.
When Yitzy resold the brand names products
in the US at a deep discount he was still com-
ing away with a tidy sum. He was using their
own brand name products to compete against
the manufacturers themselves at a price they
couldnt beat. e producers gritted their teeth,
but there was little they could do. Yitzys opera-
tion was in full compliance with the law.
e nature of many gray market deals is that
they must be kept under wraps or else the man-
ufacturers will take steps to protect themselves.
ey could not know how their own products
were arriving back in the US or they would stop
dealing with those ird World merchants.
And thats why I cant aord to use a lter or
any other such Big Brother software, Yitzy
made sure to let everyone know. I cant allow
anyone out there to take control of my busi-
ness.
And, as always, Yitzy adds his favorite refrain:
Where would I be if not for the internet!
By now, though, his motto had begun to take
on new meaning. e internet had advanced
rapidly over the past ve years. e number
of websites had topped the 5 trillion mark and
new programs were available that nobody had
dreamed of ve years earlier. e internet was
more a part of peoples daily lives than ever.
Meanwhile, Yossi was turning eight. Yitzy had
chosen the best yeshiva for Yossi, dutifully sign-
just about to drift o into a blessed rest when
the phone rang. Who could be calling at his hour?
Hello, its Avrumi. Listen, I hope its not too late
to call, but Im really stuck. Im looking for a ride to
the asifa, but everyone seems to have full cars
already and.
IM NOT GOING TO THE ASIFA!
Huh?! Um, ok.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE IN-
TERNET! I USE IT ALL THE TIME! YOU PEOPLE
ARE ALL CRAZY!
Im really sorry.
But Yitzy didnt wait to hear the rest. He
slammed down the phone and buried his head
deep in his pillow. e entire world has gone
crazy!
Five Years Later
May 2017
Reb Yitzchak, as Yitzy was now known, had
earned something of a reputation despite his
youth. He was proud to share his earnings with
the mosdos in town and everyone knew they
could come to Reb Yitzchak for a loan.
e source of Yitzys newfound wealth was no
secret. He had learned to harness the potential of
the internet and had discovered ways of making
his business known to all. To boost his earnings,
Yitzy had entered the gray market, a secretive
but highly lucrative eld. He contacted electron-
ics retailers in ird World countries where major
Like it or not, Yitzy would declare brashly to
anyone who would listen, the internet is here to
stay. Its been a fact of life for the past 10 years, and
theres nothing anyone can do to change that.
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Five Years Later
May 2022
Yitzy is as busy and excited as he could ever
imagine. In just two weeks, he would be marking
a momentous occasion: his precious Yossis bar
mitzvah. What an exciting time!
Yossi was a good boy who well deserved
the lavish attention he received. He had a good
head and easily grasped his lessons. He learned
studiously and was well-behaved in school. His
parents were very proud of him and had every
reason to look forward to years of nachas.
As a mainstay of the communitys Torah
institutions, Reb Yitzchak was making sure to
celebrate the occasion in style. His dear wife
Sarah had booked the largest and most elegant
hall in the city and had spent months attending to
the myriad details that would ensure the evening
would be one long remembered.
Sarah used her iShop to order her gown and
jewelry for the evening.
Nobody would have dreamed 10 years ago
that someday you could sit in the comfort of
your living room and view a complete catalog
in 3D, just as if the item were right in front of
you! e caterer, decorator and musicians were
hand-picked, based on who had earned the best
internet ratings.
For his part, Yitzy didnt have the time to deal
much with the preparations. He was too preoc-
cupied with his booming online business. New
products were being developed all the time and
with the speed of the internet always increasing,
he was able to double the size of his business
every year.
What would I do without the internet? Yitzy
continued to ask rhetorically. Id probably be
schlepping boxes in a basement warehouse
somewhere.
Fortunately, he knew he could rely on Sarah
to arrange everything perfectly. On his way to
ing that there was no computer in their home.
Yitzy had always been a strong proponent of
banning computers from the home to protect
the family. Strictly speaking, his signed state-
ment was entirely true, but it belied the fact that
the home was full of devices such as Smart-
phones and iPads that oered complete, unl-
tered and unadulterated internet access. Over
the years, thousands of new apps had become
available, many of which could be downloaded
for free, and Yitzys devices were constantly
updated accordingly.
1
Looking back, Yitzy could laugh out loud about
the time he had felt himself at the pinnacle of
success after purchasing the brand-new iPad,
his very rst. Today iPads were about as in as
leashes for dinosaurs. ey had long been re-
placed by iWatches that oered fully integrated
internet and other services in a small device on
a wristband. Touch screens were also relegated
to museums. e new generation of technology
meant all you had to do was voice your com-
mand and the iWatch would play your favorite
music or read the latest news out loud.
Of course, Yitzys home sported all of the lat-
est devices, each fully connected to the internet.
Among the most useful was the childrens new
gaming system that updated itself periodically
with new levels and games that downloaded
from the internet.
When I was a kid we used to badger my
parents regularly that we were bored with our
old toys, Yitzy says proudly. Now it will take
monthsif at allfor the kids to lose interest!
Still, Yitzy was careful to keep to his word.
ere was not one computer to be found in his
home. None of the primitive hard drives, key-
boards and processors were wired up together.
at would be exposing his children to unneces-
sary risk.
[1] http://mashable.com/2010/01/24/internet-of-tomorrow-column/
In ten years, computers will only be a small percentage of how we use our web. Were going to be
accessingitfromnearlyeverydeviceandapplianceweown.
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And its all thanks to the care I took not to
have a computer in my home. Yossis head is full
of Torah, and he is living proof that as long as you
dont have a computer in your home there is no
need to worry about modern technology ruining
your children.
Yitzy was reminded of the massive asifa of 10
years before when the rabbis had made such a
big deal about the internet. Now they were ar-
ranging a follow-up asifa for the public to renew
its commitment to avoid unnecessary use of the
internet in any form. Over 100,000 Orthodox
Jews were expected to participate this time
around.
e situation is only growing worse, the
leaders announced repeatedly. anks to the
unied stand we took 10 years ago we were able
to put the brakes on some of the most negative
eects that internet was having on our com-
munity. But since then its presence has grown
many times larger and its involvement in every
aspect of our lives has grown much deeper. We
must renew our battle with rmness and re-
solve that we will stand or die! Enough korbanos!
Lets stand strong and together we will bring
Mashiach!
3
Just like the previous time, Yitzy looked
down contemptuously at the tumult going on
around him.
[3] http://mashable.com/2010/01/24/internet-of-tomorrow-column/
Nationwide Wi-Fi is the more exciting prospect, though. In 2008, the FCC had an auction forthe 700
MHz wireless spectrum. A nationwide Wi-Fi network is still very possible and, in fact, seems logical
given the direction of web technologytoday. More devices will have access to these networks and
thesenetworkswill bemoreprevalent astimegoeson. Tentotwentyyearsdowntheroad, peoplewill
wonderhowwemanagedwithlaptopsdisconnectedfromaWi-Fi or4Gsignal.
his oce, where he could sit and oversee his
online operation in peace, Yitzy reminded his
wife to see that the invitations they had nalized
the previous evening would be mailed to all his
friends and clients.
Of course by mail Yitzy was referring to
what had once been known as e-mail. As regu-
lar postal deliveries were phased out (after the
Postal Service spent years in decline eating up
taxpayers money until the public protested its
continued existence) the e of e-mail had been
dropped and electronic mail had taken its rightful
place as the standard.
2
Sarah had found the most talented graphics
designer to produce an interactive 3D invitation
with a holographic monogram that changed
form and color constantly. e invitations were
accompanied by a slide show depicting Yossis
development from birth and climaxing with a
photo of the boy, face shining, in his new hat and
suit. Sending along such a large le was no big
deal considering the incredible speed at which
the internet now operated.
Still, Reb Yitzchak made sure to order a spe-
cial, custom-written pshetl for his son from an
outstanding talmid chacham in Eretz Yisrael.
Yossi, with his sharp head, had gotten the hang
of it quickly. He reviewed it numerous times
with his virtual tutor and could recite it verba-
tim in his sleep.
[2] SteveCase, Co-Founder of AOL: Somedayit wouldbegreat if insteadof beinge-mail, it would
just be called mail. Instead of being e-commerce it will just be called commerce, just because it is so
ubiquitous that it is just taken for granted, much as we take for granted electricity or water or other
kindsofutilities.
Today iPads were about as in as leashes for
dinosaurs. ey had long been replaced by iWatches
that oered fully integrated internet and other
services in a small device on a wristband.
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delightful boy; a prodigy who took his studies
seriously and was a pleasure to have in class.
He had been friendly and outgoing and used his
good head not only to grasp the lessons himself
but to explain them to the weaker boys as well.
All that had changed. Yossi had turned into a
pensive, introverted boy. He was embittered
and demoralized. Something had happened, but
nobody could gure out what.
While Yossis friends debated the topic, they
slowly learned to stay out of his way. In time,
he had begun acquainting himself with lower
elements and he soon developed a bad reputa-
tion. Yossi was not only brash and quarrelsome
but he was exerting a bad inuence on those
around him.
Perhaps Yossis parents should have picked up
on the subtle changes in his demeanor, but they
were too condent in their pride and joy to notice.
e yeshiva sent many mails to Yitzy to come
to the yeshiva to discuss Yossi, but he never had
the time and didnt think there was any value to
it anyway. Yossi was ne. On several occasions,
the mashgiach approached Yitzy directly in shul,
and broached the subject of Yossi, but Yitzy
never seriously considered the warnings about
his son. When his wife suggested that there may
be something up with Yossi, Yitzy brushed it o
and told her to let it slide. Time and again Yitzy
downplayed that there could be any serious
problem, at least one that needed intervention.
When he nally received a typical-looking
message from his sons yeshiva before Pesach,
he naturally assumed that it was just another
thank you note acknowledging his generous
contributions that were keeping the doors of the
yeshiva open for everyone. He was shocked to
read the message and nd an entirely dierent
communication.
Yossi would not be welcome back in the ye-
shiva after Yom Tov.
What?! Are they out of their minds? How dare
e whole business is ridiculous. ere is
no need to get everyone worked up. If anyone
doubts that you can raise decent children in an
internet world, let them speak to my Yossi!
Once again, Yitzy ignored the overwhelming
turnout for the asifa and stayed at home to help
his wife prepare for their upcoming simchah.
If Yossi says his pshetl well, Im going to re-
ward him with the latest MP-7 micro-player. It
can carry a limitless number of shiurim and lots
of music for him to enjoy in his spare time.
Sarah readily agreed to the idea. After all these
years she trusted her husband implicitly on mat-
ters of modern technology. Yossi could record
all of his shiurim in yeshiva, as well as the music
he had enjoyed so much at the Chol Hamoed 4D
concert.
Just the mention of the latest players made
Yitzy wax nostalgic.
Do you remember how excited people were
when the rst MP3 players came out? Ha, ha,
ha! You had to worry about whether it held one
gigabyte or two and your memory might run out
after just 60 tracks. Who even thinks about the
memory today? Who even remembers what a
hard drive is? Nobody looks at le storage any-
more; everything is stored online on the cloud.
You can store all of your les at one secure
location and access it all from anywhere in the
world!
4
Five Years Later
May 2027
y:c: uuWhat happened to Yossi?
Looking back, nobody could gure out what
had gone wrong. Yossi had once been such a
[4] http://pewresearch.org
[B]y 2020 most people will access software applications online and share and access information
through the use of remote server networks, rather than dependingprimarilyon tools and information
housed on their individual, personal computers. Cloud computing will become more dominant
than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, most users will perform most computing and
communicatingactivitiesthroughconnectionstoserversoperatedbyoutsiderms.
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Im sorry to inform you, but we cant allow
Yossi back. For a long time now, weve struggled.
We tried our best to help him get back on the
right path. In the last few months his behavior
and scholastic eorts have dropped precipi-
tously. Hes become a very bad inuence on the
others. We were forced to expel several of his
friends. Other parents are furious and threat-
ened to withdraw their own sons from our ye-
shiva if Yossi was permitted to remain. We cant
continue to let him inuence the others. While
we greatly appreciate your past support and
nothing that happens now will change that, there
is no way we can let Yossi stay.
Here the principal looked deep into Reb
Yitzchaks eyes: I have my suspicions as to what
kind of inuences could have such a drastic ef-
fect on such a bright young man--
What are you talking about!? Yitzy blurted
out. My Yossi ruining other boys?! Hes one of
the brightest boys in the whole class!
I understand that this is hard for you and of
course were prepared to aid help in any way
possible, but there is no way Yossi can return to
our yeshiva.
Yitzy could tell the issue was closed and there
was nothing further he could do. Fuming, he cut
o the image of the principal without bothering
to say goodbye.
e Yom Tov passed in a blur and Yitzy franti-
cally tried to nd a new yeshiva for his son, but
it seemed that they were all in communication
with each other. Whomever he spoke to re-
they! After everything I did for them they send
me this slap in the face as a Yom Tov gift?!
A curt command to his iWatch had him con-
nected to the yeshiva line instantly, but Yitzy
learned only that all lines would remain closed
until after Yom Tov.
No problem for a man like him. In another mil-
lisecond, Yitzy found himself in a virtual face-to-
face conversation with the yeshiva principal.
Whats this all about?! he demanded angrily.
How dare you! I will never send you another
donation!
To his utter shock, the principal didnt seem
particularly perturbed by his threat. Little did
Reb Yitzchak know that the yeshiva had been
closely observing his son for the past months
and had done its best to deal with the problem-
atic situation. eir attempts to contact Reb
Yitzchak for a friendly conversation regarding
Yossi had found him too impatient and self-
assured to create the frank atmosphere they
needed to address an issue of such import.
e sta of the yeshiva had waited until all
other avenues had been exhausted andfully
cognizant of the repercussionshad made the
fateful decision to not invite Yossi back into the
yeshiva before he could destroy it completely.
e threat of loss of funding had been consid-
ered calmly and paled in comparison to what was
being done to the institution by holding on to the
rotten apple in their midst.
Now the principal proceeded to share with Reb
Yitzchak the unpleasant news he had not both-
ered to listen to before.
Nobody would have dreamed 10 years ago that
someday you could sit in the comfort of your
living room and view a complete catalog in 3D,
just as if the item were right in front of you!
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deeper into our lives, and if we dont halt its
advance in time it will be.
You say the internet is taking over our lives
more and more? Come on. ats what we call
a conspiracy theory. To use the internet you
have to have a computer. All parents need to
worry about is that their children dont use
the computer irresponsibly!
How o I was with my predictions, Yitzy
thought to himself.
Reb Yitzchak? Yitzy suddenly heard a voice
calling his name. He turned around to face Rav
Yonah, now a mature man with a long beard,
shining countenance and respectable bearing.
Rav Yonah was surprised to nd himself stand-
ing face-to-face with his childhood friend, the
father of his former talmid.
Rav Yonah, you must save me and my
reputation. ey refuse to let Yossi back into the
yeshiva. Now no one wants him. I had such high
hopes for himwe all did! You must take him
back. Im sure this was all some sort of mistake
and Im willing to overlook it if youll just help me
now.
Despite himself, Yitzy burst into tears. Rav
Yonah, what happened? What happened to the
shining boy who studied Torah with such gusto?
How can it be that no one has room for such an
outstanding student?
Rav Yonah took his friends hand and quietly
told him, e internet has ruined so many won-
derful people.
Internet? Yitzy spat out bitterly. Everything
now goes over the Grid, Yitzy thought to him-
self. Its one hundred millions times faster than
the internet was just 15 years ago. My business
could never have reached its tremendous size if
I were still bound to the old-fashioned internet!
Yitzy took a deep breath and turned to his for-
mer classmate, What do you mean to tell me
sponded politely but rmly that there was no
room for Yossi in their yeshiva.
Weeks passed and there was no improve-
ment in the situation. Yossi was sitting at home
wasting his entire day, from night until morning,
with the newest device his father had given him
a few months before. It was a fantastic phone,
toy, player and much more all wrapped in one.
Of course, it was powered by continuous online
interaction, but who was still concerned about
that?
After observing the change in his son, though,
Yitzy was forced to face the sinking feeling that
perhaps the yeshiva principal had been right af-
ter all. He sat back and thought the matter over.
ere was no other choice. He would have to nd
a way to get Yossi back into the same yeshiva.
But if the principal was dead set against it, how
could he accomplish that?
After mulling it over, Yitzys thoughts turned to
the Rosh Yeshiva. Although he had not dealt with
the man much in recent years, the Rosh Yeshiva
was none other than his childhood classmate
Yonah. Now known to everyone as the learned
Rav Yonah, he often davened in a nearby shul.
Yitzy would nd him one evening, appeal to his
heart and ask the man, for old times sake, to
overlook whatever it was that was bothering the
sta and let Yossi back in.
at night Yitzy went to the other shul and
sure enough he could see Rav Yonah in the
middle of davening. He waited in the anteroom
and passed the time by reading the ads. Limited
number of appliances available w/o online con-
nection. Enjoy a washer/dryer like your parents
used! First come, rst served!
5
As he read the ier, Yitzys mind went back to a
conversation he had shared 15 years before.
e internet is worming its way deeper and
[5] http://www.cnn.com
Larger companies such as LG, Panasonic and Samsung are trying to link up all of the big-ticket
householdappliancestotheinternetwithavarietyofgoalsinmind.
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and that primitive piece of hardware they used
to call a hard drive.
Of course, Yitzy interjected. You dont have
to tell me that. Today we all use speech-to-text
which follows your vocal instructions. ose
who still want to type for more accurate data
entry use virtual keyboards projected on the of-
ce desk, the wall or even your hand!
7
Yes, but think back to how the yetzer hara
played around with us over 15 years ago. ere
was a strong movement to evict the computer
from our homes. en the yetzer hara came
along and brought the internet into Jewish
homes by way of unltered tablets, Smart-
phones and eventually even smaller devices.
And many people who removed the internet
from their homes still exposed themselves to it
at work. ey logged on to the worst of sites.
Rav Yonah stroked his beard and looked deep
into the eyes of his former classmate: After
watching one heartbreaking episode after an-
other, our gedolim decided that decisive action
had to be taken and the internet had to be banned
from Jewish society in any form other than the
barest minimum each breadwinner needs for his
work. You, however, decided that you knew bet-
ter. You refused to join and you even tried to con-
vince others not to. You and other like-minded
individuals failed to take the appropriate steps to
protect yourselves and your families.
[7] http://news.yahoo.com
eEndofKeyboards&Monitors: theOmniTouch.
that it ruined so many people? What does that
have to do with me?
6
Rav Yonah put his arm warmly around his
friends shoulder. Sit down and lets talk for a
few minutes. Do you remember 15 years ago
when the rst asifa took place? e asifa. Ev-
eryone was talking for weeks beforehand about
what was going to be done and how klal Yisrael
was going to unite to deal with the great problem
we were facing.
Yitzy nodded thoughtfully and Rav Yonah
forged ahead, You were very outspoken in your
opinion that the whole problem was a fantasy
and everything was being blown completely out
of proportion. You let everyone know that you
were getting rid of the computer in your home
and now you were completely protected from
the internet, right? But let me tell you, my dear
friend, you may have been more familiar with the
internet than the rest of us, but you made a fatal
mistake. You thought the internet was a problem
that would forever be limited to the computer.
But who bothers with a computer anymore?
Just some oce workers who retained desk
jobs. Twenty years ago we needed computers
to make full use of the internet, but not today.
Today we have the Grid and innumerable devices
and appliances rely on a constant connection
to the Grid. Have you been to a computer store
in recent years? ey have ceased to exist! No-
body is bound anymore to the keyboard, mouse
[6] LondonTimesApril 07, 2008: eGridCouldSoonMaketheInternetObsolete.
Everything now goes over the Grid Its one
hundred millions times faster than the internet
was just 15 years ago. My business could never
have reached its tremendous size if I were
still bound to the old-fashioned internet!
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eir conversation was over, but Yitzy could
not bring himself to move. He sat in the same
place for a long while mulling over what the Rosh
Yeshiva had just told him. Hardest of all was to
admit that he, Yitzy, the self-proclaimed expert
on modern technology, had erred drastically. e
rabbis had been right after all, of course, and he
of all people had been trapped by the yetzer hara
into the most pernicious of errors.
His son Yossi had fallen prey to his fathers I-
know-better-than-you attitude, and at the mo-
ment there was no prospect of saving him.
Five Years Later
May 2032
Even ve years later, Yitzy winced every
time he thought about his conversation with
Rav Yonah. How many times had he found his
thoughts wandering back to that conversa-
tion? How many times had he found himself
walking around in a fog? He was plagued by
deep feelings of guilt for having caused so
many problems for Yossi, such a promising
young man. Yossi himself had continued falling
and eventually his contacts with shady gures
overtook his life. He dropped out of his parents
world entirely.
At the same time, Yitzys long run of spec-
tacular business success came to a sudden halt.
Sophisticated new technology allowed manu-
facturers to track every product they produced
as they were distributed around the world. is
was just what the major brand name producers
were waiting for. As soon as they discovered
which of their ird World merchants were sell-
ing their products back to American business-
men like Yitzy they dropped those distributors
like hotcakes. Now Yitzy could no longer nd
cheap suppliers for his products.
With the gray market eectively closed,
Yitzy tried competing directly with the wide
range of new products and applications that
You dont need me to tell you that if it was dif-
cult to give up the internet 15 years ago, it would
be next to impossible to suddenly stop using the
Grid now. e Grid provides free and instanta-
neous access to all online services anywhere in
America. Just look at the integrated GPS that now
comes standard with every car.
8
Not only does it
give you the directions to your destination with
constantly updated satellite information, it now
provides you with a constant 3D image of the
road ahead of you, complete with every tree and
building, so you can recognize where to go before
you even reach the next turn!
9
Rav Yonah patted his old friend on his shoulder
sympathetically and then continued, Yitzy, Im
not sure you even remember how many times
I approached you to warn you how all these de-
vices have a bad inuence on Yossi. You always
scoed and said that I didnt know what the
internet was. Yes, you threw out your com-
puter but you allowed the internet to invade your
home in a thousand other ways. Your Yossi may
never have touched a computer, but he has ex-
perienced the worst and he may never recover.
Any cheap pocket-sized device can allow an
inquisitive young man to access all of the worst
todays world has to oer. Not only that, Yossi
ruined other ne boys around him as well. And all
because you thought you knew better!
Yitzy felt his heart pounding. Rav Yonah con-
tinued: While we have not been able to save
Yossiso farwe were forced to take steps
to protect the rest of our students from falling
victim to the internet, or Grid or what have you.
And, Im sorry to say that even if he would want
to return Yossi has no place roaming the halls of
a yeshiva in his present state. If there is anything
further I can do for you, Reb Yitzchak, be assured
that Im here for you at any time. Meanwhile, I
wish you best of hatzlachah. Have a good night.
[8] http://news.cnet.com
FordcarstobecomeWi-Fi hotspots.
[9] Reuters: Futurecarstofeatureinteractive3DGPSdashboards.
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TalkTalk would tell you where to nd out or
whatever you wanted to know.
13
Recently, the new I-glasses had become an
overnight sensation. Using a wireless connec-
tion to the Grid, these glasses provided you with
all sorts of information about whatever building
or site you looked at, such as what was inside
and even the history of the building!
14
Even videos were almost entirely on their
way out. Now holograms were used to give you
the feeling of a live conversation with a person
who was actually on the other side of the world.
Teleconferences between executives now took
on the feel of personal meetings as the real-
time image of participants at widely distributed
locations joined in holographic unity.
15
When a
major event was organized in Eretz Yisrael, Jews
in America could participate fully sitting in their
own auditorium. ey watched a live hologram
of the speakers as they delivered their message,
complete with gestures, from thousands of
miles away.
For the rst time in his career, Yitzy was feel-
ing lost by the newest generation of technology.
He could not get the hang of the newest gadgets
and applications. Clients kept complaining that
his stock was outdated and that his prices were
out of touch. Sales dropped drastically. Slowly
[13] http://www.newsouture.com
TalkTalk-theSearchEngineoftheFuture.
[14] AssociatedPress: GoogleglassesoerglimpseintoInternetsfuture.
[15] http://www.technologyreview.com
Researchers have made a major step toward a holographic videoconferencing systemthat would let
peoplecommunicatewithoneanotheralmostasiftheywereinthesameroom.
ooded the retail market in the new Grid epoch.
Massive ber-optic cables now crisscrossed
America, replacing the primitive telephone and
cable lines that once transmitted messages
and data. Now the entire Europe and North
America relied solely on the unied cable ser-
vice to provide VoIP.
10
You could no longer get telephone service
without being connected to the Grid. And that
same cable delivered television and movies,
including the most depraved. All you needed
was a small device to access the information
that was present. And despite all the eorts by
responsible Jews to keep television and movies
out of their homes, there was always the worry
that one of the children would obtain any of
various devices that would allow them to ac-
cess everything.
11
Newspapers, that all-American pastime,
had entirely disappeared to be replaced by
iPapers that were updated hourly.
12
And vir-
tually any information you needed was now
available in an instant using the TalkTalk tech-
nology. Anything you needed to know, nd or
buy could be presented as a verbal query and
[10] http://www.thinksmallcell.com
USlandlinesobsoleteby2025replacedbycellularandVoIP.
http://www.times-herald.com
With AT&T nowbasically admitting that the old land line systemis obsolete, it might not be too long
beforethoselandlinesgothewayoftheoldrotaryphones.
[11] http://www.brighthub.com
Imagine it: all your data, your telephone, television, internet, anything and everything done over the
same superfast, superecient line. Fiber optics has already made huge headway on the market, so
expecttoseeonlymoreofitincomingyears.
[12] http://www.pcworld.com
LGDisplayDevelopsFlexibleE-newspaperScreen.
e new I-glasses had become an overnight sensation.
Using a wireless connection to the Grid, these
glasses provided you with all sorts of information
about whatever building or site you looked at
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meant anything to him. And ever since the Grid
had arrived he had never been able to support
his family. e internet had deserted him in his
time of greatest need.
If only I had the sense to accept what wiser
and smarter people had to say! If only I had
let into my heart what the gedolim were say-
ing back then about coming up with ways of
ghting the negative inuences of the inter-
net! If only.
Yitzy, Yitzy, what are you shouting about?
Are you alright?
It was the voice of his wife Sarah, who
sounded very concerned.
What where am I? Yitzy asked as he
opened his eyes and the dreary world around
him slowly melted away.
What do you mean? Youre sleeping in your
own bed! Did you have a nightmare?
One second, what day is it?
What do you mean what day is it? Its Sun-
day morning, two days to Rosh Chodesh Si-
van. Yossis upsherin is coming up soon and you
promised me you would be available today to
help get ready.
Baruch Hashemits not too late! Listen,
Ill be available until late afternoon. After that I
have to leave for the asifa.
What? Youre going to the asifa?! But youve
been telling everyone for the last two months
that theres no need to go!
Im sorry Sarah, forget about whatever
I said. I thought I knew everything but now I
realize I know nothing. Im not going to risk my
entire future, or the future of our Yossi, just
because I think I know better. Im denitely go-
ing to the asifa. And if anyone calls looking for a
ride, tell them it will be my pleasure!
his retail empire crumbled and along with it,
Yitzys ego.
Yossi had long since left the picture entirely,
and his minimal contact since then had only
been to encourage his younger siblings to join
his dissolute ways. Unfortunately, more than one
of them had been convinced. Yitzy tried spend-
ing some time studying Gemara. After years
of constant exposure to the ever-changing
technology, however, he found that he could not
concentrate on anything anymore.
Yitzy had nothing left to look forward to in this
world, and he worried that he had nothing to look
forward to in the next.
irty Years Later
May 2062
Internet? Yitzy croaked to his young
grandson. You want me to tell you about
the days of the internet? Let me be. ere are
things Id rather not remember, much less talk
about. e internet destroyed me; it destroyed
my family, my happiness, my life. If only I had
listened in time. Oy, where I could have been if
not for the internet!
Yes, Yitzy had changed his tune. In hindsight,
he considered his life a failure and it could all
be traced to the internet. While other fami-
lies around him had grown and strengthened
themselves, uniting with the rest of klal Yisrael
in resisting the excesses of modern technol-
ogy, Yitzy had allowed himself to be ravaged
by the monstrous presence that had overtaken
the world.
Where he had been given the chance to be
the proud father of a potential future gadol ha-
dor, Yitzy was now completely estranged from
his rstborn son who had fallen upon his own
hard times. His second son kept Shabbos more
for his elderly fathers sake than because it
Kol Koreh of the Gedolei
Yisroel of America
Letter from Harav Ha-
gaon R A.L. Shteinman,
Harav Hagaon R Chaim
Kanievsky and Harav Ha-
gaon R Shmuel Wosnor
Letter from
Harav Hagaon R
Shmuel Auerbach
Letter from
Admor
MNovominsk
Letter from
the Admor
MRachmistrivka
Letter from
Harav Hagaon
R Yaakov Hillel
Letter from Beis
Din Tzedek,
Yerushalayim
Additional Chasima of
Admor MPshevorsk
Letter from
Satmar
Beis Din
Dear Chaver,
We hope this letter finds you well. We are all painfully aware of
how many of the advancements in technology have created un-
precedented challenges to maintaining the purity of our homes.
The detrimental effects of these challenges are well known. To
help us deal with these serious challenges an organization
called" Ichud Hakehilos L'Tohar Hamachaneh" has been formed.
The organization is spearheaded by Rav Matisyahu Solomon
Shlit"a and the Skulener Rebbe Shlit"a. After consultation with
many Gedolim this organization has arranged a mass gathering
of Jews from all backgrounds to join together on the 28th of Iyar
(May 20th, 2012) at Citi Field. This event has been publicly en-
dorsed by many Gedolei Yisroel.The stated goals of the event
are to provide the entire tzibur with education, inspiration,
encouragement and practical solutions. Close to four hun-
dred of our own Bnai Hayeshiva will be in attendance at
this gathering. We hereby encourage all of our Alumni
who live in the Tri-State area to make every effort to at-
tend. In the zechus of our taking steps to maintain the pu-
rity of our neshomos and our homes, may Hashem grant
us the opportunity to have His shechina in our midst, with
the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.
Wishing you much hatzlacha,
Rabbi Dovid Harris Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt
Letter from
the Roshei
HaYeshiva and
the Mashgiach
of Beth Medrash
Govoha
Letter
from Skverr
Beis Din
Letter from
Harav Hagaon R
A. Schechter
Letter from the
Admor MBoyan
Letter from Harav
Hagaon R Dovid
Harris and Harav
Hagaon R Akiva
Grunblatt
Letter
from
Harav
Hagaon R
Yehuda
Addes
Letter
from the
Rabbanim of
out-of-town
Likovod Harav,
As we are all well aware, the detrimental eIIects that digital technology is having
upon our Kehilos, has reached epidemic proportions. There is probably not a Rov in the country who has
not had Iirsthand experience oI one or more oI their congregants struggling with improper use oI the internet.
In addition to the obvious accessibility oI pornographic sites, there are many other issues including blogs
and internet addiction. As the Mashgiach Shlita wrote in his letter, 'the internet has broken down all Iorms
oI separation between ourselves and the world outside.
As explained in the Mashgiach`s letter, the Gedolei Hador have established the
~Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane to uniIy Klal Yisroel to deal with this challenge. The imme-
diate goal oI the ~Ichud is to unite Rabbonim across the country in Iighting this battle and to give them
the tools to do so. In order to Iacilitate this, he has encouraged us to set up an action committee oI Rabbonim
Ior the Greater North America. With the clear understanding that each community is unique, the
hopes to assist and empower local Rabbonim to create a program which will be effective within their city.
As a Iirst step, the action committee has begun organizing an AsiIah Ior Rabbonim
Irom across the country. The purpose oI the AsiIah is to lend the strength oI Achdus to every individual
Rov Iighting this battle and to explore ideas and share strategies that have proven successIul.
We look Iorward to working closely together with you on this important mission.
We will be in touch soon IYH regarding the AsiIah and other steps that we can take together to maximize
our Hatzlacha.
We end with a TeIilah to Hashem that He aIIord us the strength to rise to the chal-
lenge that the Yevanim oI our times pose to Klal Yisroel and be Zoche to Nissim Bazman Hazeh.
Rabbi C. Wenger Rabbi N. Neustatd Rabbi A. Weinrib
Montreal Detroit Cincinnati
Rabbi D. Merling Rabbi N. Burnstein Rabbi G. Bess
Montreal Cleveland Los Angeles
Rabbi M. Silver Rabbi Y. Margaretan Rabbi Teichman
Toronto Cleveland Los Angeles
Rabbi Z. Cohen Rabbi S. Badusch Rabbi E. Shapiro
Chicago Mexico City Miami
Rabbi D. Heber Rabbi Menashe Zupnik
Baltimore Passaic
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Malignancies
of the Mind
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Although the response from gedolim should
be enough, lets present a step-by-step picture
of what internet represents and what it is doing
to humanity.
Irreverence
e internet nurtures irreverence.
One of the issues that lies at the heart of the
internet problem is the inherent lack of author-
ity it aunts.
e internet gives every individual his or her
say, and that is both its strength and its weak-
ness. ere is no one to answer to. Anyone
can share his thoughts with impunity. On the
internet an accomplished scholar with years of
experience can post an authoritative expos
on his area of expertise, only to have some-
one with not the slightest background in that
subject reject the entire edice with a single
derisive comment. In fact, the one who posts a
demeaning joke often becomes instantly more
popular than the writer of the original piece!
In this context, it can be said without hesi-
tation that the internet presents by far the
greatest challenge to the authority of our To-
rah leaders today. Our nation has been guided
throughout its history by our leaders, those in-
dividuals who form the unbroken chain of Torah
legacy beginning with Moshe Rabbeinu at Har
Sinai. e Torah commands us to act upon the
guidance of our leaders, who take their advice
from the words of the Torah.
M
alignancies of the Mind. Sounds
shocking. ere are realities in this
world that are simply shocking.
ey attack every aspect of
humanity: Hunger War... Disease Violence
Abuse Internet.
One of the points that make the last entry on
our list so distinctive is that in its own unique
way it actually encompasses all the others.
Even from a purely secular standpointwhich
is not the limited view that we as frum Jews are
expected to takeinternet has overtaken and
updated every form of evil known to mankind.
e science ction books and lms that pres-
ent virtual realities in which gures from the
computer screen jump out at you and attack
in real life are no longer ction at all. In a very
literal sense, all of the vices humans have un-
covered over the millennia are now attacking
internet users daily, jumping out at them from
the screen and in many cases going on to de-
stroy their personal lives.
Whats so terrible about the internet?
First of all, who says we need to understand
whats so terrible about it? If our gedolim are
saying its unrestricted use is forbidden, that
should be enough. And the truth is that they are
saying much more than that. ey are openly
sharing that they have dealt with innumerable
stories in which individuals and families have
been destroyed by this wonder of the Techno-
logical Age. e rest of us learn only about iso-
lated incidents that are spoken of in whispers.
e science ction books and lms that present virtual realities
in which gures from the computer screen jump out at you and
attack in real life are no longer ction at all.
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Superciality
e internet attacks a persons depth
and inhibits the thought processes.
Scientists have documented that prolonged
use of the internet damages the ability of the brain
to function properly. e constantly changing
text, the stream of images that it by, the ever-
present additional links beckoning to explore new
horizons, and the constant stream of information
oods the mind.
Users who begin by searching for a specic
item of information or product to buy are soon
sidetracked by an exciting ad or link, and losing all
track of time, suddenly hours have gone by. Even
after the internet session ends, the vivid images
continue to replay themselves in the persons
mind. ey have become a part of the individuals
reality. e person no longer needs to think on
his own. His opinions, emotions and principles
are now inuenced by the internet experience.
e mind becomes crippled or even incapable of
deeper thought on its own.
If medical experts and professors are alarmed
at what is happening to our generation, how
much more so must we be concerned about pro-
tecting the most precious and vital aspect of our
very being?
e Gemara tells us, un:: uya unynuTorah
study requires a relaxed and clear mind (Megilah
28b). How can a businessman sit down to a Daf
Yomi shiur, how can a yeshiva bachur sit down in
Gemara class, how can a mother attend an inspir-
ing lecturewhen their minds are attened or
destroyed courtesy of the computer?
Addiction
Internet users relinquish control
of their minds and actions.
Even if there were nothing inherently wrong
with the material available on the internet, its
powerful eect on the mind has caused it to
:unu: [n : :+. .uu .a+ [n .:cn u:Do not
veer from what they tell you right or left (De-
varim 17:11).
e Sefer HaChinuch (496) comments:
People have views that are dierent from
each other and they will never coincide. e
Master of All, may He be blessed, knows that if
the interpretation of the writings of the Torah
were left in the hands of every individual
according to his knowledge, each one would
explain the words of Torah according to his
understanding. Conicts would multiply
among klal Yisrael regarding the meaning
of the mitzvos and the Torah would become
dissipated.
Even if it were not an article of faith, history
shows that our rabbonim have not let us down.
e Torah leaders have guided us on how to re-
spond to every attack, problem and crisis that
we have faced during our long and often dicult
existence. Only in the merit of our Torah and the
bearers of its ag have we survived the incredible
physical and spiritual dangers of the past 3,000
years.
e internet is an open and limitless domain. Ev-
ery user potentially puts himself directly in touch
with the most depraved minds on the face of our
planet. ese are people we would be scared to
converse with face-to-face, yet in the sterile
world of virtual reality they may become teach-
ers, mentors and closest condents.
A case in point is the frum websites, where
our neighbors and friends chat and share their
thoughts on the events and issues of the day.
Respect for our elders and leaders disappear in
this cyber region. A single pun or good line can
destroy the work of a lifetime, and eradicate re-
spect for His representatives among us. Derision
is commonplace, as is the attitude of questioning
and playing devils advocate on every issue put
forth. Opening up our minds to the ridicule and
foreign ideas that pervade the cyber world is the
antithesis of the deference that the Jewish nation
has held onto throughout the generations.
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withstand the temptation until motzaei Shab-
bos arrives.
Although the internet provides its users
with a feeling of freedom, a sense of euphoria
at having the world at his ngertips, it is no
more than an illusion. e addict is reduced to a
shadow of himself, a lost personality, an empty
shell. He wastes all his time and energy on the
surng experience and has no strength left for
the important matters in his life. He drops out
of society and immerses his entire being in a
world that exists only virtually.
Worse yet, internet addiction has driven
people to the most destructive behaviors
toward themselves and others around them.
Much has been written in scientic literature
about internet addicts who have been driven to
the point of murder!
A study showed that as many as 10 million
Chinese youths are so addicted to the internet
that they are in need of medical assistance. e
New York Times reported on a research study
conducted in Maryland that found that 200
people who were blocked from their regular
access to the web displayed extreme signs of
irritability and other abnormal behavior.
Regular use of the internet is being blamed
in part for the increased incidence of ADHD
among children. Companies have reported that
after restricting their workers from spurious
access to the internet they saw jumps in pro-
ductivity of 50%!
From the Torah point of view, our ability to
choose is what sets humans apart from ani-
evolve into a potent, dangerously addictive,
mind-altering drug.
Psychologists say that an addiction is not
just a state of mind, but a pathological disease
of the brain. When the brain becomes addicted
to drugs, alcohol or certain types of stimulating
behavior (such as gambling or overspending),
physical changes take place that impel the per-
son to continue his unhealthy behavior. e ad-
diction becomes such an overwhelming force in
the persons life that it takes over every aspect
of the persons thoughts and behavior. All the
person cares about is satisfying that unbear-
able craving, at any cost.
With the spread of the internet, an incredible
phenomenon came to the fore: Internet-
aholics. 12-step groups have been formed to
treat the problem, dealing with it in precisely the
same manner as an alcohol or drug addiction.
Internet addicts nd that it takes over their
lives. ey become so glued to the ever-
changing stream of information that they can-
not carry on with their lives normally. eir jobs,
family and even personal careeven eating
and drinkingare dropped by the wayside as
they spend yet another few hours opting out of
reality and into virtual reality.
Like smokers, who are the rst to dash out
of shul motzaei Shabbos to grab that cigarette
they have been craving all afternoon, frum in-
ternet users will grab their cell or dash to their
computer at the rst opportunity to satisfy
that urge that has been nagging them all day.
And those are the ones who are still able to
eir jobs, family and even personal careeven eating and
drinkingare dropped by the wayside as they spend yet
another few hours opting out of reality and into virtual reality.
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counterparts. But these companions are only a
supercial, false substitute for the healthy rela-
tionships we still need.
When participating in a chat group, one never
knows the identity of the other participants. eir
names, locations and positions in society are all
hidden. Whatever personal information is shared
is often false, a mask created to hide the persons
true identity. e relationship established in such
a manner is at best weak. In truth, it is non-exis-
tent. It is a virtual falsehood.
Bloggers develop split personalities, drifting
through life like robots while their true emotions
are bound to the ethereal friendships they have
developed for their digitalized companions. By
lling our emotional stomachs with the junk
food of internet society, we are stunting our ap-
petite for the healthy relationships our psyches
truly crave. Where does ones spouse t into the
picture if the opinions of other bloggers are of
paramount importance? Where does the time
for children and friends go if all ones spare time is
spent chatting with other devices?
e internet is presiding over the breakdown of
our family, friendships, and society as a whole.
Depravity
Internet makes the most
depraved debauchery freely and
graphically accessible to all.
What can we say? Everyone knows that the in-
ternet has made the lthiest of images and ideas
readily accessible to anyone. Pictures and stories
that could not be peddled on the streetseven in
21
st
century America!without risking a jail sen-
tence are easily accessible and can assault those
who use the web regularly.
We are commanded .nu: o.aa: .nu :.:nn u::
o..yAnd you shall not stray after your hearts
and after your eyes (Bamidbar 15:39), a pasuk
we recite at least twice every day. e Yerushalmi
mals. We are to choose subservience to Hashem:
[:+u .;: : :: o+ay: o+ay u:: o+ay :u.u .a : .
:ny:Bnei Yisrael are servants to Me, not ser-
vants to servants. And this one went and acquired
for himself a master?! (Kiddushin 22b).
Our very purpose in this world is to withstand
temptations that would lead us away from
Hashem and the ultimate goodness He oers. We
are enjoined by the Torah, ona n.na:Choose
life! (Devarim 30:19). Submitting our minds to an
outside force that removes our ability to decide
on our own is as good as death.
Societal
Breakdown
Internet replaces normal societal connections
with virtual ones, destroying personal
relationships and customary family life.
It is the nature of every human being to thrive
on companionship, to need to share ones life,
feelings and experiences with those around
him or her. When Choni Hamagal awoke after 70
years and found that he could not relate to the
new generation, he begged to be removed from
the world. Chazal comment on this with a classic,
pithy proverb that still rings true today: un:.an :u
un:nn :uEither companionship or death (Taa-
nis 22b).
In a healthy society ones closest companion
is his spouse. en come children, the rest of the
family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances.
Each connection adds a unique touch to the sense
of belonging and humanity that is essential to
emotional wellbeing. Our relationships with those
around us are a source of inspiration and life.
e rise of social networking, blogs, chat
groups, and even texting all threaten to destroy
the traditional relationships that are still so vital to
our societal wellbeing. Family and friends are for-
gotten as people come to rely more and more on
the companionship and approval of their virtual
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To this Torah giant, a forbidden sight was
worse than death.
Unfortunately, there have been innumer-
able stories of people who have not stopped
at seeing. ese were individuals who would
never have dreamed of compromising their
lives and characters in such a manner before
they began using the internet. In recent years
the dayanim who deal with gittin have begun
to deal daily with divorces in which the inter-
net was the root cause.
e element of anonymity that the internet
provides allows people to bypass the natural,
inborn shame they would normally feel when
involved in inappropriate behavior. erefore,
Harav Shmuel Wosner, a senior posek of our
generation, ruled that one must observe the
halachos of yichud, seclusion with a member of
the opposite gender, in regard to the internet.
Negative
Character Traits
Internet inculcates in its users bad
middos by encouraging and publicizing
slander, libel and ridicule of others.
e anonymity and instant access to millions
of spectators oered by the internet makes it
a natural breeding ground for slander. ose
who wish to defame others, publicize negative
stories and otherwise destroy reputations with
impunity, without fear of any repercussions,
comments, y+ u.u .y: a: : na u a; .nu
: nu+Hashem said, If you give Me your heart
and eyes, I know you are Mine (Berachos 9b).
It must be made abundantly clear that the is-
sue is not whether one acts on what he or she
sees and reads. Just one glance at a forbidden
image is a serious breach of behavior for the
spiritually responsible Jew.
e contact with immorality by denition de-
stroys the purity of the neshamah. Such mate-
rial by its very nature distracts the mind and heart
from everything spiritual and rened. It is well-
nigh impossible to sit down at a shiur and follow
the discussion, or concentrate on ones davening
after the mind has been polluted by enticing im-
ages and text that the internet purveys.
Because of the dissolute lifestyle of the soci-
ety that surrounds us, we have largely lost our
sense of propriety. It is no longer such a blot on
a persons reputation if he is caught looking at
advertisements or magazines that do not be-
long in Jewish hands.
e great Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Aharon Kotler
, once mistakenly glanced at something he
considered inappropriate. Witnesses say he
instantly turned white as a sheet and began
trembling. He went into a private room and was
overheard weeping to Hashem: Master of the
World, from all those whom You have taken to
You [this was shortly after the Holocaust from
which the Rosh Yeshiva escaped], You had to
leave me behind to face sin?!
e element of anonymity that the internet provides allows
people to bypass the natural, inborn shame they would
normally feel when involved in inappropriate behavior.
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have found the internet to be the supreme me-
dium for their debased work.
People regularly post their complaints
against others, describing in detail wrongs
that have been committed against themselves
or just slander intended to destroy anothers
standing. No one can verify whether the in-
formation is true or not, and for the most part
other internet users really dont care.
As a result, numerous totally false and base-
less claims are posted on the internet where
no one can challenge them. Plenty of outcasts,
even from our own communities, use modern
technology to broadcast their twisted views and
opinions to defame and denounce innocent indi-
viduals, rabbonim and even our entire society.
Reading these stories constitutes the ultimate
breach of the laws of lashon hara that have been
so painstakingly spread throughout klal Yisrael
ever since the Chafetz Chaim rst introduced his
magnum opus on the subject. We have taken up
the non-Jewish approach that everything goes,
that no one can be safe from demeaning infor-
mation and misinformation; that it is everyones
right to say and hear what they want with no
thought of the consequences to others.
Furthermore, by virtue of our participating in
this behavior, by reading those blogs and web-
sites, we are directly contributing to the perpet-
uation of these forbidden activities. We become
accomplices to the crime.
Nor does it end when the computer is shut
down. e words take root deep in the minds of
their viewers, accompanying them in everything
they do throughout the day. e slander and
atmosphere of ridicule, the utter lack of con-
cern for others feelings, become a part of the
readers being. e bad traits that are inculcated
aect every decision the person makes, every-
thing he does or she does.
Criminality
ere is much more that we have not touched
on yet in the limited space available here. We
have not even touched upon the internet as a
gathering for criminals, cults and worse. It is a
means by which innocent people are unwittingly
trapped, and cheated. Copyright infringement
and piracy are a reality every nanosecond. Gam-
bling has shattered the lives of too many up-
standing individuals within our own communities.
And the list goes on.
Conclusion
It must be underscored that the internet is
still in its infancy. e web rst became available
some 20 years ago and only became popular in
the Jewish world more recently, over the past
decade. e potential for it to overtake our lives
and society entirely in the foreseeable future
cannot be underestimated.
We face a very real risk of the disasters that
have rocked our communities in the last 10
years becoming not only more prevalent and
frequent, but actually devastating our commu-
nities entirely. We stand before a real techno-
logical Holocaust. It us up to us to stem that tide
nowbefore it is too late.
How can we stand up to and resist the most
powerful force that has been unleashed in our
times? Only by standing rm and standing to-
gether. By following the call of our leaders, our
gedolim and rabbonim. When we make it com-
pletely socially unacceptable for people to carry
the internet in their pockets, to peddle it freely, to
use it unprotected, to expose our innocent chil-
dren to its dangersthen, and only then, will we
be able to tell Hashem that with His help we have
withstood the test of our generation.
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What the Experts
are Saying
About the
New
Online
Culture
Chochma ba-Goyim Taamin:
O
ver the course of the last 20 years,
the internet has exploded into our
lives. In 1990, a scant three million
people in the world were online.
1
At the
dawn of 2012, over six times more people
across the globe were logging on than
at the beginning of 2001, representing
a 528% increase over 11 years. Today a
huge number of people, an estimated 2.27
billion worldwide, are plugged in to the
web. According to http://www.internet-
worldstats.com, 77% of Americans have
internet access. And for a great number
of those people, the internet has become
an indispensable part of their daily lives.
Simultaneously, the internet has
[1] Dorling, D. UniversityofSheeld, UK. InternetUse1990.www.worldmapper.org. 2006.
http://www.worldmapper.org/posters/worldmapper_map335_ver5.pdf
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there is no denying that the internet is occupy-
ing an increasingly prominent position in the
lives of the masses so much so that many in
our communities nd that they simply cannot
live without it. Can any business todaythat
wants a broader customer base than the cor-
ner grocery storeaord to be without a web
presence? (You might be surprised to know
that that corner store has a website, too.) Can
you leave out the e-mail address on a business
card? And for the vast majority of todays pro-
fessionals, it simply goes without saying that
a signicant portion of work makes use of the
internets revolutionary benets.
In a broader sense, access to the web is
changing our daily lives. A teacher who needs
a last-minute lesson plan on the parsha might
make use of the extensive resources available
at chinuch.org.
5
Perhaps the tenth shadchan in a
row has requested an e-mail of your daughters
latest resume so now you have e-mail. Youre
on a business trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and want
to know when you must daven mincha, so you
visit or text myzmanim.com. Is there a minyan
there? GoDaven.com. If you keep yoshon, you
will want to download a PDF of the guide. For-
got your siddur? Tellos.com. Can you check this
leafy vegetable for bugs? Visit the website of a
reputable kashrus organization. More and more,
this medium pervades our world.
e internet has seamlessly integrated into
many of our lives. Some of us took the plunge
willingly, and some were drawn in against our
will. But now that we are here, we have to con-
front this brave new world head-on, with our
eyes wide open. e same medium that deliv-
ers everything we need, at ever-accelerating
speeds, can deliver anything we ask of it. Many
people dont even have to seek it out; its there,
in their pockets, beeping and vibrating impa-
tiently, demanding attention. And not only does
[5] We do not specically endorse any of the websites mentioned herein, which are used solely to
illustrateapoint.
become a major social and political issue in
the world at large. Some voices lament the
inaccessibility of the internet in poverty-
stricken communities as a civil rights issue.
2

People who dont have internet access
dont have opportunities equal to other
Americans. A Federal Communications
Commission spokesperson labels not just
internet access, but high-speed broadband
internet access as the foundation for
our economy, [and] the foundation for our
democracy in the digital age.
3
Indeed, the FCC, mandated by Congress, has
a special Broadband Commission dedicated
to ensuring that all Americans have the ability
to access high-speed internet. e Commis-
sion likens the project to the era when the fed-
eral government connected America with the
transcontinental railroad, or the electric grid.
Last summer, a United Nations special report
declared that restricting internet access was
even a violation of human rights!
4
is was par-
tially in response to developed nations like Brit-
ain and France who want to punish copyright
pirates by disconnecting them from the web.
Although more moderate voices have es-
chewed such proclamations as over-the-top,
[2] For example, see http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/08/04/needy-families-oered-low-
cost-internet-service-computers/
[3] http://www.broadband.gov/plan/
[4] Estes, A. eU.N. DeclaresInternet AccessAHumanRight. eAtlanticWire. 6Jun2011. http://
www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/06/united-nations-wikileaks-internet-human-
rights/38526/
Today a huge number of people, an
estimated 2.27 billion worldwide,
are plugged in to the web.
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Some scholars, uneasy with the direction
that society has been taking, have issued
a wake-up call of sorts. Painstakingly re-
searched books are now appearing, describing
in detail what kinds of eects the digitization
of our lives has caused, in what direction the
general culture is heading, and how we can rec-
ognize the changes that are happening within
us and in the outside world.
A great many academics, pundits and intel-
lectuals are united in their warnings of the psy-
chological, moral and cultural implications of
the internet. A survey of some titles that have
been published in recent years is enlightening:
x e Cult of the Amateur: How Todays
Internet is Killing Our Culture, and Digital
Vertigo: How todays online social revolu-
tion is dividing, diminishing, and disorient-
ing us, by Andrew Keen, a columnist and
internet entrepreneur.
x e Dumbest Generation: How the
Digital Age Stupees Young Americans
and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Dont Trust
Anyone Under 30), by Mark Bauerlein, a
professor of English at Emory University.
x You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, by
Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist and pio-
neer in the eld of virtual reality.
x Social Networks and the Death of Pri-
vacy: I Know Who You Are and I Saw What
You Did, by Lori Andrews, professor at the
Chicago-Kent School of Law.
Even statistical studies whose authors are
more optimistic about the extensive use of the
internet can still enlighten us if we study the
raw data through the lens of a Torah perspec-
tive. One thing everyone agrees upon: e
constant barrage of online information, and the
content, quantity and quality of it, is dierent
from anything the human race has ever before
experienced.
it bring us what we want, but it can and does
force us to accept things we would never want.
It is already clear from a halachic and hash-
kac standpoint that unltered, unmonitored
internet access is literally destroying so many
precious neshamos of klal Yisrael. We dont
need to consult external sources to conrm
that for us. Nevertheless, it may be useful to
know what even the voices of the non-Jewish
and secular public, lehavdil, are saying about
the internets inuence on our lives. Additional-
ly, we should be aware of how strongly internet
use can aect us after we have already taken
all necessary precautions.
Its not only the dirt of the Net that can change
our lives for the worse. Everyone who is regularly
involved in internet use must take a big step back
and look at our new e-reality: how it aects us,
how it changes us, and what the future may hold.
Additionally, we should be aware of the risks that
the dark side of the internet poses to us and our
children in its classic ability to expose us to con-
tent completely against our will.
By and large, the internet, along with every
new gadget and web concept that its technol-
ogy evangelists (yes, theyre really called that)
can market, has been consumed with unre-
strained glee by the world in general. People are
spending more time online than ever before,
losing themselves in virtual reality. A British
report from March of 2012 claims that the av-
erage adult in the UK is spending over 15 hours
online every week. A New York Times headline
from 2010 declares: If Your Kids Are Awake,
eyre Probably Online. e article goes on
to describe that a professor who headed the
study on childrens internet use was shocked at
the results, since in 2005 he had concluded that
kids could not possibly spend any more time
online. He had believed that there were not
enough hours in the day to enable an increase.
6
[6] Lewin, T. 20Jan. 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html
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and the resultant metamorphosis is not limited
to the online world. In fact, he described the pro-
cess as a kind of hijacking of our personalities.
Dr. Aboujaoude sums up his opinion of the
internets eect on our psyches:
e result of all these online interactions
is the unwitting creation of an e-identity, a
virtual whole that is greater than its parts
and that, despite not being real, is full of
life and vitality. Unfettered by old rules of
behaving, social exchange, etiquette, or
even netiquette, this virtual personality
is more assertive, less restrained, [and] a
little bit on the dark side.
And that e-identity does not tend to stay
compartmentalized, only appearing when
we sit in front of the computer screen. It
manifests itself in our real life dealings too
sometimes too subtly to notice. Not only
that, but many people are unaware that they
are in fact acting dierently online than they
would in any other circumstance.
He points us to an article by Dr. John Suler,
Ph.D., of Rider University, who calls it, e On-
line Disinhibition Eect, which is the phenom-
enon of people acting in strange and unchar-
acteristic ways while using the internet, doing
and saying what they never would in real life.
He lists multiple factors which contribute to
In this article we will consult the experts in or-
der to examine the internet phenomenon from
several major perspectives: how the internet
aects our personalities, changes the way our
minds work, promotes unreliable content, does
incredible violence to our privacy, and how it
pushes unwanted content into our lives. Ad-
ditionally, we will explore the phenomenon of
internet addiction.
e Internet Personality
A new and important book which takes the
plunge into examining how the internet has
evolved in a relatively short period of time from
the domain of a few computer enthusiasts
to a medium that dominates how the world
communicates is Virtually You: e Dangerous
Powers of the E-Personality (2011) by Stanford
University psychiatrist Dr. Elias Aboujaoude.
7
According to Dr. Aboujaoude, there is no
doubt that the internet is changing the way we
think, and even our personalities. e internet
by nature encourages not only consumption of
its content (like radio, newspapers or television
do), but participation in and interaction with it.
is shapes our psyches, aects our behavior,
[7] isbookexploresall aspectsof secular societysinternet useandisnot recommendedfor family
reading. Similarcautionisadvisedwhenconsultingall materialsreferencedherein.
e internet by nature encourages
not only consumption of its content
but participation in and interaction
with it. is shapes our psyches,
aects our behavior, and is a kind
of hijacking of our personalities.
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harsh criticisms, anger, hatred, even threats. Or
people explore the dark underworld of the inter-
net () places they would never visit in the real
world. We might call this toxic disinhibition.
8
Of course, it should be pointed out that from
a Torah perspective, even what Dr. Suler terms
benign disinhibition can often take forms that
are inappropriate simply from a perspective of
wasting time. Tellingly, a 2009 analysis of Twit-
ter messages by Pear Analytics placed 40% of
tweets in the category of: Pointless Babble.
Impulsivity
Unquestionably, there is a major trend of in-
ternet users who become plagued, to a greater
or lesser degree, by impulsive and compulsive
behaviors. In Virtually You, Dr. Aboujaoude
[8] Suler, J. e Online Disinhibition Eect. Ine Psychology of Cyberspace. 2004. http://users.
rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/disinhibit.html (articleorig. pub. 2001)
this, including Its Just a Game (dissociative
imagination) and You Dont Know Me (disso-
ciative anonymity).
Its well known that people say and do
things in cyberspace that they wouldnt
ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face
world. ey loosen up, feel more uninhib-
ited, express themselves more openly.
Researchers call this the disinhibition ef-
fect. Its a double-edged sword. Some-
times people share very personal things
about themselves. ey reveal secret
emotions, fears, wishes. Or they show un-
usual acts of kindness and generosity. We
may call this benign disinhibition.
On the other hand, the disinhibition eect may
not be so benign. Out spills rude language and
What happens every 60 seconds on the Internet.
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Dr. Aboujaoude quotes Helga Dittmar, author
of a 2007 study published in the Journal of So-
cial and Clinical Psychology about compulsive
spending: Individuals seem most vulnerable
to compulsive buying tendencies online, and
would therefore benet most from interven-
tion when they believe that a better self is only
a button click away.
Impulsive Emailing/Texting
e instant mentality where everything
has to be accomplished with dizzying speed
can permeate our actions in multiple areas. We
lose patience; our tempers get shorter.
Michoel was sick and tired of being
pressured at work. Not only that, but his
boss had no problem piling on extra as-
signments, many of which were really his
own responsibility, not Michoels. Upon
receiving the latest e-mail ordering him to
produce charts for a presentation his boss
had to make the next day, his face ushed
with anger. is was really the last straw!
He angrily composed the following e-mail:
Unlike you, Im already working overtime
and underpaid making this company rich.
Why dont you take a shorter coee break
and do the charts yourself? About a half
a minute after he hit the Send button,
he was regretting his hasty words. He had
rent and yeshiva tuitions to pay, and he
only hoped his uncharacteristic explosion
wouldnt cost him his job.
We can see many of the themes of this article
at play in this story. If Michoel was dealing with
his boss face-to-face, or even had to talk to
him on the phone, would he have said it in quite
that way? Perhaps not. But in acting on his an-
gry impulse and clicking the Send button, he
made an irrevocable decision.
devotes Chapter 5 to impulsivity. A great por-
tion of the chapter is devoted to compulsive
gambling, something that is greatly facilitated
by over 1,300 gambling websites many of
which are located in oshore gambling havens,
like the Dominican Republic, that arent subject
to American legal restrictions.
Dr. Aboujaoude theorizes that it is the
instant-gratication nature of the web that
allows users to act on their impulses over and
over again. is is the key to understanding
why people will consistently give in to their im-
pulses rather than their better judgment, in the
forms of gambling, shopping, regrettable elec-
tronic messages, and other addictive activities.
Compulsive Buying
Studies seem to show the level of compul-
sive buying climbing, and especially among
the younger generation. Teenagers who have
grown up with the internet have shown a star-
tling penchant toward shopping for its own
sake compared with adults, and a dramati-
cally high rate of endorsement of materialistic
values. ere seems to be a compelling paral-
lel between the degree to which the internet
encourages materialism and the high rate of it
among todays youth.
And that e-identity does not tend
to stay compartmentalized, only
appearing when we sit in front of
the computer screen. It manifests
itself in our real life dealings too
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Dr. Aboujaoude doesnt mince words: e
Internet has the power to transform us into
self-infatuated demigods.
Excessive self-love and narcissism are seen
by secular society and the world of psychology
as antisocial tendencies at best, and patho-
logical mental illnesses in their most extreme
manifestation. But intrinsically, plain gaavah,
haughtiness, and concern only for oneself, are
antithetical to the personality that the Torah
wants us to cultivate.
e discussion here is not necessarily about
some kind of psychosis that will take hold
of heavy internet users, although Dr. Abou-
jaoudes book makes a strong case that our
personalities can be signicantly aected by
this over time. Rather, on a very subtle level,
the baalei mussar and chassidus teach us that
everything we choose to see, hear, and say, has
a denite eect on us. e Vilna Gaon in Even
Sheleimah says that each action we do in this
world creates a ruach, a certain power in the
spiritual world that tries with all its might to
cause us to repeat this action, whether for the
good or cv for the bad. And we also know that
actions, when repeated many times, tend to
become second nature for us. It is short-sight-
ed to believe that our behavior while online
wont carry over into our daily lives.
Additionally, the medium of e-mail leaves
the intended tone of the writer to the readers
imagination. In person, colleagues can act on
cues they get from another persons facial
expression or body language. ey can change
their tone mid-sentence or give a slap on the
shoulder and a Just kidding! to reduce the
other persons unease. In this case, however,
Michoels boss can now stare at the computer
screen, reading and re-reading the note, per-
colating with anger, and imagining the worst
intentions behind Michoels impulsive words.
In three months, after all has been forgiven
and forgotten, his boss could be browsing
through a search of Michoels e-mails looking
for some important information. When his eyes
x on the preview of that e-mail, it will all come
ashing back to him. It is forever preserved for
posterity.
Its All about You
One of the ubiquitous themes of the internet
is: You. Because of the interactive nature of the
web, and the ever-increasing competition for
your attention from advertisers, the trend of
every serious player in the web arena is Person-
alization. Not only is the internet an ideal tool for
self-promotion, but it also delivers everything
you want, instantly and custom-tailored.
Social networking is about presenting You
to the world, and often marketing Yourself to
others. In fact, it actively encourages self-love,
also known as narcissism.
9
Dr. Aboujaoude
gives some examples of the slogans that em-
body this commercialization of self-centered-
ness. From Yahoo!: eres a New Master of
the Digital Universe. Its Y!ou. EarthLink: e
Earth Revolves Around You. And the Mi-Fi
technology that brings you your own portable
Wi-Fi bubble.
[9] Shockey, Andrew. Shockingly Simple: Facebook exacerbates self-interest,
reduces meaningful interaction. e Daily Reveille. 28 Mar. 2012. http://tinyurl.
com/Shockey-Reveille
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Internet and the Brain
ere is a plethora of anecdotal evidence
from the case les of psychologists and psy-
chiatrists that the internet aects our person-
alities and minds. Additionally, there are now
peer-reviewed academic studies examining
the eect of extensive internet use on various
kinds of social and personal problems. But some
recent scientic investigations have uncovered
an even more startling phenomenon: the very
structure of our brains can be aected.
Dr. Aboujaoude describes various studies
that have been conducted linking extended
video game playing with signicant changes
in brain usage. He suggests that although few
studies have been done so far that speci-
cally target internet usage, idly browsing and
other common net activities may have the
same eects. ey consist of often repeti-
tive, monotonous actions that dont engage
our thought processes very much, similar to
the eect of watching television for hours on
end. (e physical actions involved in extended
computer use may also have signicant im-
plications for ones physical health, such as
muscle pains and carpal tunnel syndrome.
10
)
In addition to changing the makeup of our
brains, internet use can aect us in a more
temporary way by providing an almost endless
source of distraction. A business research rm
called Basex named Information Overload
as its 2008 Problem of the Year. It denes in-
formation overload as, An excess of informa-
tion that results in an inability to concentrate
on tasks and stay focused. [is] is a massive
problem in the twenty-rst century; recent
Basex research shows that Information Over-
load costs the US economy ca. $900 billion per
year.
11
is means that instead of carrying out
whatever task he is supposed to be doing, a
typical worker will instead check his e-mail,
send text messages, receive cell phone calls,
send instant messages, check blogs, and
Google things. Ocials at the technology
company Intel estimate that the problem costs
each of their employees an average of eight
hours a week time that should be spent
working. It also costs the company millions of
dollars. ey have experimented with various
techniques to reduce this wasted time, such as
No E-mail Day.
Scientic studies analyzing the real eects
of the internet on users brains are still in the
very beginning stages, and much more re-
search needs to be done. But just perusing the
innumerous self-help sites and articles that
discuss the distractions and procrastinations
that are caused by the internet reveals the
double-edged sword of our new plugged-in (or
wireless) reality. Academics, psychologists and
neuroscientists are advocating caution. Each
person should take a hard look at his internet
[10] For example, see Bosch, T. Fatigue and performance in repetitive industrial
work. Doctoral dissertation, FreeUniversityofAmsterdam. 2011. http://dare.ubvu.
vu.nl/bitstream/1871/19631/1/dissertation.pdf
[11] http://bsx.stores.yahoo.net/inwaroninov.html
An embarrassing picture, an
ignorant comment, a careless insult,
lashon hara all of these things
and more can take on a life of their
own once they leave the connes
of your personal computer and
jump onto the World Wide Web.
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Yet, the internet is a portal to your private
self, whether you know it or not.
Information shared on social networks
can be mistakenly viewed as private (only my
Friends can see it) or semi-private, but in real-
ity just by being a part of these communities,
we sacrice a certain level of privacy. But the
not-so-hidden agenda of data aggregators
like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, et cetera, is to
record every tiny bit of information they can
about us in order to sell it. In the words of tech-
nology columnist Andrew Keen:
Reid Homan, the Silicon Valley super-
connector who introduced Zuckerberg
[founder of Facebook ed.] to his rst
investor, calls this new world Web 3.0,
describing it as a place of real identities
generating massive amounts of data. at
data is, of course, all the personal details
about ourselvesthe billions of photos,
updates and videos that we post narcis-
sistically on our Facebook pages.
at data is us. Weyou and Iare the
companys real product, the oil of our Web
3.0 age. Facebook aggregates and stores
all our personal data and then sells access
to it to advertisers. at is Facebooks
creepy business model and its why the
seven-year-old company realized $3.71
billion of revenue in 2011.
12
In the following pages we are going to use
Facebook as a case in point and bring many
examples of their power over your privacy. In
case you think that this information is irrelevant
to you because you dont use Facebook, you
should know that Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft,
and others, try their best to collect just as much
information about you. For example, if you are
logged on to one of the Google services, like
Gmail, your web searches will be recorded, and
[12] Keen, A. Opinion: WemustavoidFacebookscreepy cultoftransparency.CNN.com. 3Feb. 2012.
http://tinyurl.com/Keen-CNN
use and analyze in which circumstances it is an
unnecessary distraction that can lead to many
more problems than it solves. Like alcohol, it
may make someone feel good in the moment,
but its abuse over the long term can have dev-
astating eects.
Privacy: You Are the Product
by Facebook, et al.
Most of us value our privacy. Each person has
his or her personal comfort level when it comes
to sharing information about himself. Addition-
ally, we may elect not to publicize what we do
wish to share to a large audience. On some
level, its instinctual why should anyone else
know about my personal choices, preferences
and actions, even if that knowledge wouldnt
seem to aect me?
e human brain.
Information Overload.
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Facebook, and other data miners like
Google, will relentlessly pursue any small tidbit
of information you provide them with to con-
nect you to another person or product, which
will likely mean more money for them. ey will
scan your IP address to gure out your geo-
graphical area, compare Friends of your Friends
(if, lets say, two of your Friends have the same
Friend, they will suggest this Friend for you),
and they will monitor your every click while on
their websites for interests and spending pat-
terns. All of this data is recorded and processed.
Of course, its all strictly private. At least,
thats what these mega-million and billion dol-
lar corporations are advertising. We have to
take their word for it that only mindless com-
puter programs and mathematical algorithms
are monitoring our every click and keystroke.
But the least we can do is inform ourselves
about what kind of information we are giving
away about ourselves. Just having a Facebook
account, no matter how much you try to re-
strict public access to your information, will
give away one very important thing about you
to anyone in the world: You have a Facebook
account.
We used to have a setting that controlled
who can look up your prole (timeline) us-
ing your name. We removed that setting
because your prole (timeline) could be
discovered in other ways in connection
with your name.
13
is means that anyone who knows your
name can nd that you have a Facebook pro-
le. Depending on your privacy settings, that
person can often send you a message directly.
Anyone who is a Friend of one of your Friends
can even send you a Friend request (there is no
way to opt out of this), with the expectations
that come along with it.
[13] http://www.facebook.com/help/privacy/basic-controls
even the ways in which you navigate around
the website and where your mouse pointer
moves on the screen can be (and is) analyzed.
Your email is scanned by Googles software,
and ads deemed relevant to the content are
displayed on the side of the screen. is author
tried to opt out of content-based, targeted
advertising in Gmail, but somehow the ads
on the side of e-mails are excluded from that
option. One tech pundit advises, You can see
how much people value their privacy by their
willingness to pay for an ad-free service like
Fastmail (www.fastmail.fm).
Someone familiar to this author has a
Facebook account that he uses occasionally
perhaps once a month for ve minutes to
connect with some distant family members.
He has shared a very small amount of data
about himself, and even then only to family.
But somehow, when he logs on he sees a long
and surprising list of Friend suggestions pop
up on the side of his screen: people whom he
barely knew from decades ago, or people with
whom he has lost contact, and even people he
knows currently in real life but didnt know
they even had internet access.
Dr. Aboujaoude gives some examples
of the slogans that embody
this commercialization of self-
centeredness. From Yahoo!: eres
a New Master of the Digital Universe.
Its Y!ou. EarthLink:
e Earth Revolves Around You.
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Facebook and any business partners who buy
information from it.
Additionally, many government agencies can
easily investigate you, without a warrant, using
this information. Heres a small sample: Ad-
dress; alternate name; all applications you have
installed; every location from which you have
ever checked in, including latitude, longitude
and altitude, and what you did on Facebook
while you were at that location; every like
you have clicked on; credit card information
(encrypted); place of residence, date of birth,
and education; every Facebook event you
have ever been invited to and your reply; all
family members and their relation to you if
you have entered that information; all friend
requests youve ever received and your re-
Facebook never stops its automated data
collection about you. For that, youll have to
log o. In the end, you can only limit what other
people can view, but Facebook will always see
and use all information it has gathered from
you.
14
Also, privacy settings are constantly
changing, confusing users as to what their op-
tions are.
e truth is, even avoiding using Facebook
may not be a guarantee of privacy, because if
you have an account (or ever had one at any
point in history and then reactivate it, resur-
recting all of your old data), people can tag
you in photos, meaning that Facebook soft-
ware knows you were in that picture. is is
meaningful to the platform because most pic-
tures taken by digital cameras carry timestamp
information (when the picture was taken) and
many devices also record the location in which
it was taken with an internal GPS device! is
information is read by the websites software.
Alternatively, other users can location-tag
their photos that include you.
Europe Versus Facebook
A 24-year-old law student from Vienna named
Max Schrems utilized a European Union privacy
law in 2011 to demand that Facebook provide
him with a list of all the information they had ever
collected on him. What he received was a CD
containing 1,222 PDF les, each one containing
dierent personal information about him.
15
He created an organization called Europe vs.
Facebook. On its website, he details exactly
what kinds of information Facebook had col-
lected on him. One of the points to consider
here is that its not just one huge mass of un-
sorted information. Rather, its carefully and
systematically categorized for ease of use by
[14] Seenote35.
[15] Donohue, B. Twenty Something Asks Facebook For His File And Gets It - All 1,200 Pages.
reatpost.com. 13 Dec. 2011. http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/man-request-personal-data-
facebook-recieves-1200-pdf-pages-121311
How people are wasting
their time on the internet.
Multi-tasking on the internet is
becoming a common problem
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ter, and Alexa, are starting to oer access
to archived versions of pages after those
pages have been removed from the Web.
is means that the life span of data online
is, if anything, increasing, and the 404
Page Not Found message we are used
to getting when we click on a defunct link
will gradually stop being part of our World
Wide Web experience.
17
is author, out of curiosity, searched Way-
back for a friends personal website that he had
created more than 12 years ago, and whose
domain name has been defunct for almost 8.
I typed in the address and clicked Take Me
Back. Although that webmaster has no inter-
est in this content still being available on the
web, the Wayback machine obediently took
me back in time where various incarnations of
it were viewable. I doubt this website got more
than 100-200 hits during the course of its exis-
tence, but a few of those were from the Way-
back machine, so now it is accessible forever.
Facebook content is similarly sticky. ere
is no way to simply click a button and delete
all of the content you have created from Face-
book. Says Dr. Aboujaoude: To truly leave,
[17] FromChapter 11: Making Time, Making Memories. Full citation: Aboujaoude, Elias. Virtually You:
eDangerousPowersof theE-Personality. 7Feb. 2011. (KindleLocations4032-4033). Norton. Kindle
Edition.
sponses; all friends youve ever
removed and all friends who
have removed you; the last lo-
cation you have been in; all us-
ers who have logged in from a
specic computer youve used;
all messages you have ever
sent or received on Facebook
(which they never delete ac-
cording to their privacy policy);
your religious views.
16
What Goes Online
Stays Online
Once you post something to the web, any com-
puter that can access it can cache, save or archive
it for any length of time. And in case you didnt
think anyone was interested in what you have to
say, welcome to e Wayback Machine (http://
web.archive.org/). Writes Dr. Aboujaoude:
Some services are intentionally working
to make sure Web content is never lost.
e mission of the Wayback project, for
example, is to copy entire sites for poster-
ity, archiving Web pages, images, and texts
forever. Others, such as the Digital Library
Project, the Online Computer Library Cen-
[16] Europe versus Facebook website. http://europe-v-facebook.org/EN/Data_Pool/data_pool.
html#Target
How the Internet is (mis)used
A cottage industry of unocial Web
pages has sprung up to help people
escape the social network; a popular
one is tellingly named 2,504 Steps
to Closing Your Facebook Account.
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she is actually inviting literally any person in
the world to view it and judge her based on it.
is is partially due to the default settings on
Facebook, which can be summed up by saying
that Facebook will share everything about you
with anyone unless you instruct it otherwise.
e default is to share and sharing yourself is
what Facebook is all about.
And perhaps, like the second young woman,
your viewpoints and the personal information
you think you would like to make available now
simply arent the picture you want to pres-
ent to the world in ve or ten years from now.
Peoples tastes, opinions, political views, and
even hashkafos can change radically over the
course of a few years. A person can even de-
cide that part of the changes in his or her life
will be to quit using Facebookbut without a
rigorous process of uprooting content, every
tiny bit of old information may be available vir-
tually forever.
An embarrassing picture, an ignorant com-
ment, a careless insult, lashon hara all of these
things and more can take on a life of their own
once they leave the connes of your personal
computer and jump onto the World Wide Web.
Forgetting can be helpful: it helps us forgive
members have to painstakingly delete, line by
line, Wall post by Wall post, and group aliation
by group aliation, all the prole information
that they created over the course of their Face-
book life. (A cottage industry of unocial Web
pages has sprung up to help people escape the
social network; a popular one is tellingly named
2,504 Steps to Closing Your Facebook Ac-
count.)
Chaim
18
had just been redt a shidduch
that he was simply not sure about. He had
done the research, and asked all the right
questions, but he was still plagued with
doubts. While making some photocopies in
the yeshivas oce one day, he idly typed
the girls name into a search engine on a
vacant computer. Her Facebook account
immediately popped up. After seeing her
prole picture, he made his decision they
wouldnt be seeing each other.
Once Chaim realized that the internet
could help him with his shidduch research,
he didnt hesitate to use it again. Another
time he found online information about a
shidduch that led him to believe she was
too liberal for his tastes. at material is a
few years old! the shadchan advised him.
Shes really not the same person. But he
felt uncomfortable enough that he was
persuaded not to meet her.
While the appropriateness of Chaims actions
and decisions may be debatable, let us focus on
the decisions of the young ladies involved. Re-
gardless of whether or not posting the online
picture constituted a breach of tznius, the rst
young woman simply didnt imagine that just
anyone would be previewing her photograph
and making judgments about meeting her
based on it (or else she would have provided
the shadchan with a picture!). Unwittingly,
[18] Basedonatruestory, namehasbeenchanged.
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sponse is required by law under the local laws
in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that
jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally
accepted international standards. We may also
share information when we have a good faith
belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other
illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm,
or to protect ourselves and you from people
violating our Statement of Rights and Respon-
sibilities. is may include sharing information
with other companies, lawyers, courts or other
government entities.
19
is is a sweepingly permissive statement
allowing Facebook to share your information
with, essentially, whomever they are afraid
ofUS courts, foreign courts, other companies,
lawyers, other government entities (whos
that?) and your local police ocer. As of the time
of this writing, they have made their policy a bit
more vague by deleting words like with other
companies from their policy, although there is
no indication that they cannot still do so.
You Are Not Anonymous
Dr. Elias Aboujaoude in his book Virtually
You gives one example of how a person can be
identied and personal information about him/
her can be exposed solely through the moni-
toring of search engine searches that people
conduct.
20

In 2006, America Online released the anony-
mous search logs of 650,000 users as a re-
search tool. By analyzing the kinds of searches
that people made, reporters were able to
narrow down identities so well that they actu-
ally found and went to visit one of the people
whose searches had been recorded. elma
Arnold, a 62-year-old widow from Georgia,
was shown a record of all the searches she had
[19] http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=%20322339455300
[20] Chapter10: eEndofPrivacy
people, it helps us deal with emotional pain and
trauma, and it de-clutters our mind from useless
details. But the internet has the potential to inter-
fere with that process, bringing up old memories
and not letting us move on from the past.
Who Can Get Your
Information?
One important question to ask is: who exactly
has the right to access your information? e real
answer seems to be anyone that Facebook wants.
Of course, if these sites were to sell all of your
information, attached to your name, without
your permission, they would be subjected to
class-action lawsuits. But read the following
excerpt from Facebooks 2009 privacy policy
very carefully:
To respond to legal requests and prevent
harm. We may disclose information pursuant
to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests
(including criminal and civil matters) if we have
a good faith belief that the response is required
by law. is may include respecting requests
from jurisdictions outside of the United States
where we have a good faith belief that the re-
is means that instead of carrying
out whatever task he is supposed
to be doing, a typical worker will
instead check his e-mail, send text
messages, receive cell phone calls,
send instant messages, check
blogs, and Google things.
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ing to the Loyola University Health Sys-
tem. (One out of three in the UK, according
to a Divorce-Online survey.)
x Stories of people whose marriag-
es were destroyed by social networks
abound on the Internet.
x Some parents believe that friending
their child on Facebook is adequate to en-
sure safety, Mike Betron, VP and General
Manager of MinorMonitor, said in a state-
ment. is simply provides a false sense
of security as children are still able to en-
gage in private conversations and post
questionable material without their par-
ents seeing this as a friend.
x In late March/early April 2012, the rst
stalker app appeared on Facebook, col-
lecting real-time GPS locations of Face-
book users so that criminals could nd
them in real life. e app was removed
quickly, but no punitive action was taken
and Facebook remains unclear as to how
it will prevent such apps from appearing in
the future.
x U.S. psychologist Dr. Leonard Sax be-
lieves teenage girls who spend too much
time on Facebook are more likely to be de-
pressed. Furthermore, the total number of
Facebook friends they have can also be a
big risk factor for depression.
x 44% of Facebook users wish they had
the same body or weight as a friend when
looking at photos.
x Only 8% of parents are aware of cy-
ber-bullying events involving their own
children.
Signs of addiction: 21% of women age 18-34
check Facebook in the middle of the night, 34%
before they brush their teeth in the morning.
22
[22] http://mashable.com/2010/07/07/oxygen-facebook-study/
made. My goodness, its my whole personal
life, she exclaimed. I had no idea somebody
was looking over my shoulder.
Additionally, somebody analyzing the ma-
terial may come to false conclusions about a
person. When Mrs. Arnold was asked about
her web searches for nicotine eects on the
body, hand tremors, and bipolar, she re-
sponded that she was simply a curious wom-
an trying to educate herself to better comfort
some sick friends. But Dr. Aboujaoude points
out that if an insurer was secretly researching
her trying to decide if the company should give
her a health insurance policy, they probably
wouldnt be convinced she wasnt hiding some
major health problems.
On the internet, you are lulled into a sense of
security by the illusion that no one can know
who you are. e truth is, your computers
unique IP address is easily tracked by almost
any website and anyone who knows a thing
or two about computers. Your identity can be
discovered very easily, if there is a reason for
someone to make the attempt. Every cookie
your computer silently downloads is watching
your actions.
Once your information is so tantalizingly
stored and disseminated on Facebooks serv-
ers (it bears repeating that this applies to all
online companies who scan your data, not
just Facebook), it oers an enticing target for
hackers who will illegally access your personal
information. On Facebook, the most highly en-
crypted information is your credit card number.
Any other details about your life would seem to
be fair game for even mediocre hackers.
While we are on the topic of Facebook, let us
ponder a few more points
21
:
x Facebook is cited in one out of every
ve divorces in the United States, accord-
[21] Protalinski, E. Facebook blamed for 1 in 5 divorces in the US. Zdnet.com. 1 Mar. 2011. And other
articlesintheFriendingFacebooksectionofZdnet.com.
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A 2007 study by the University of New
Hampshire found that 28% of children aged
10-17 had been inadvertently exposed to inap-
propriate content that they did not seek out.
24

A dierent study gives a gure of 70%!
25
ese
exposures occurred through websites (mis-
leading links, misspelling web addresses, etc.),
chat with friends, le-sharing programs, and
online games.
Illusion of Knowledge
One of the pitfalls of internet use is the gen-
erally low quality of huge amounts of infor-
mation available there. e intrepid Googler
is often hard-pressed to distinguish between
reliable and unreliable sources in his research,
and many are simply too lazy to verify the
truth. What this leads to is the ability for a
person to feel well informed on a topic while
really being completely misled.
Nowhere is this more perfectly demon-
strated than by everyones favorite Source
of All Information About Anything at Ever
Existed: Wikipedia.
Wikipedia lures us with its professional-
looking design and its 3.95 million articles (in
English alone!), many of them exceedingly
long, on any topic imaginable. Here you can
[24] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,250247,00.html (42%exposed x 66%unintentional =
28%oftotal)
[25] http://www.internetsafety101.org/Pornographystatistics.htm#_ftnref
Forced upon Us
Departing somewhat from the main topic of
this article, we should be aware that no matter
how good and moral we are, and how responsi-
bly we use the internet, and how much we trust
ourselves, there is another danger inherent in
browsing the web: inappropriate content that is
foisted upon us.
For the most part, pop-ups arent a problem
anymore; most browsers automatically block
them. But there are countless websites with
important content that are ruined by immodest
advertisements. Not only that, but an inno-
cent entry into a search engine can yield un-
dreamed-of results. Some links are deceptive.
Image searches for mundane words can return
unsuitable results.
is entire eect is exacerbated when it
comes to children using the internet. Children
can be exposed to the worst sights and inu-
ences purely by accident. ey dont even know
how to distinguish the warning signs of a bad
link. And what they see can have very damag-
ing eects on their undeveloped psyches.
23
[23] Forspecics, seehttp://tinyurl.com/bqaeeon
Facebook is cited in one out of
every ve divorces in the United
States, according to the Loyola
University Health System. (One
out of three in the UK, according
to a Divorce-Online survey.)
Internet users by country
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get a quick introduction and over-
view to almost any topic you want,
or nd out biographical information
about almost any person who is
even moderately well known. Its
an increasingly popular destination
on the web: the English site had
6.75 billion views in March of 2012
(thats almost one for every person
on the planet, over the course of
just one month).
26
is is boosted immensely by
search engine references. For ex-
ample, over half of the 1,000 most
popular Google searches will yield
a Wikipedia entry as one of the rst
few results. Wikipedia is one of the
most powerful sites on the web in
terms of shaping public perception.
Because Google favors it so heav-
ily, the entries on Wikipedia have
become supremely important and
relevant.
27
At least Wikipedia is fairly
straightforward about the nature
of the project: its English language
main page states right at the top,
Welcome to Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
In its essence, what this actually
means is that anyone anyone
can add any content they wish to
this encyclopedia. Pause for a
brief moment to let the implica-
tions of this sink in. e people
making entries and edits need
claim no credentials, no expertise
or special knowledge. On Wikipe-
dia, the information entered by a
[26] http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/SummaryEN.htm
[27] Catone, J. Just HowPowerful IsWikipedia? http://www.sitepoint.com/
just-how-powerful-is-wikipedia/. 4Sep. 2008.
Statistics
on Internet Dangers
47% percent of families said addiction to
inappropriate websites is a problem in their home
(Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003).
86% of men are likely to click on inappropriate
Internet sites if no one else will know about it
(Journal of the American Psychological Association).
9 out of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16
have viewed inappropriate stu on the Internet,
in most cases unintentionally (London School of
Economics January).
Never before in the history of telecommunications
media in the United States has so much indecent
(and obscene) material been so easily accessible
by so many minors in so many American homes
with so few restrictions.U.S. Department of Justice,
Post Hearing Memorandum of Points and Authorities, at l,
ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824.
38% of Facebook users in the last year were under
the age of 13. (Consumer Reports, June 2011)
51% of parents either do not have or do not know if
they have software on their computer to monitor
their teenagers online navigation and interactions.
(National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox
Communications Parental Internet Monitoring Survey, May
23, 2005)
A new website is launched every 2 seconds
(covenanteyes.com).
In 56% of divorce cases today, a major contributing
factor is one spouses inappropriate use of the
Internet (covenanteyes.com).
e past 10 years has seen a 162% increase in
the amount of time that youth spend online
(covenanteyes.com).
Americans spend over 20 hours a week surng
the internet (covenanteyes.com).
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tion of John F. Kennedy? e lie had already
been on the site for several months.
28
ere is much more to say about the Wiki-
pedia phenomenon, but the constantly un-
folding saga of Wikipedia is but one chapter in
the debate on the reliability of online informa-
tion.
e internet may greatly facilitate real learn-
ing and research, but it doesnt provide a short-
cut to substitute for the process of learning
in-depth. Additionally, it lacks the controls that
are in place in many published works. Let the
information consumer beware.
Addiction
Internet addiction has been a hotly debated
topic for years. Whether its called problem-
atic computer use by those who doubt its
status as a true addiction, or a full-edged
Internet Addiction Disorder, this problem
has become very prominent.
An article published in e New York Times
in 2005 describes the addiction:
[S]pecialists estimate that 6 percent to
10 percent of the approximately 189 mil-
lion Internet users in this country have a
dependency that can be as destructive as
alcoholism and drug addiction, and they
are rushing to treat it. ()
Skeptics argue that even obsessive In-
ternet use does not exact the same toll
on health or family life as conventionally
recognized addictions. But, mental health
professionals who support the diagnosis
of Internet addiction say, a majority of ob-
sessive users are online to further addic-
tions to gambling or [immodest activities]
[28] Seelye, K. SnaredintheWebofaWikipediaLiar.NewYorkTimes. 4Dec. 2005. Web.
high-schooler can seem as accurate and look
as clean and professional as that of the most
renowned professor. Someone looking for
a quick fact he needs for his next business
presentation or educational lecture could
copy information posted on Wikipedia by a
12-year-old, unsuspectingly present it as fact,
and be exposed to ridicule by experts who
know better. Of course, it would be his own
fault but Wikipedia actually seems to try its
best to convince us that its a good source of
information.
(Fortunately for the author of this article,
and his readers, he consulted real sources for
the facts!)
Wikipedia enthusiasts claim that cases of
vandalism and lies posted on the website
will be quickly rooted out by the thousands
of editors and millions of visitors the site re-
ceives constantly. But what about the case
of John Seigenthaler, Sr., former editor of e
Tennessean newspaper, who in 2005 discov-
ered a false Wikipedia entry on himself that
said he had been implicated in the assassina-
e intrepid Googler is often hard-
pressed to distinguish between
reliable and unreliable sources in his
research, and many are simply too
lazy to verify the truth. What this
leads to is the ability for a person to
feel well informed on a topic while
really being completely misled.
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people aected with this problem. According
to the Big ink website:
Fact: over half the worlds population lives in
cities. Fact: all developed cities like New York,
Tokyo, Singapore and London, are in a race to
become wired. Fact: the most wired city in
the world is Seoul, Korea with 97% broadband
penetration. Ergo if we want to imagine life in
a digital city, we should look for inspiration and
lessons to Seoul. In fact, journalists, research-
ers and public ocials have done exactly that.
What theyve discovered is a country which
is one of the top investors in technology in
the world, but whose population has become
infested with internet addiction. Does this
mean our children and even us adults are vul-
or have become much more dependent
on those vices because of their preva-
lence on the Internet.
But other users have a broader
dependency and spend hours online each
day, surng the Web, trading stocks, instant
messaging or blogging, and a fast-rising
number are becoming addicted to Internet
video games.
29
e most wired country in the world,
South Korea, is also the home of the most
[29] Kershaw, S. HookedontheWeb: HelpIsontheWay.NewYorkTimes. 1Dec. 2005.
Internet users doubled in only ve years
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countrys 100 million Internet users.

Both China and South Korea have desig-
nated Internet addiction as their number
one public health danger, notes reStart in
a statement. e United States, by con-
trast, has been slower to recognize and
respond to the problem but now is begin-
ning to take some active steps. is pro-
gram is part of that process.
31
Internet addiction can literally ruin peoples
lives. It can seriously harm or ruin a marriage.
It can cause people to neglect serious re-
sponsibilities, lose their jobs and their homes.
It has physically detrimental eects.
[W]hen Internet use becomes exces-
sive, it canlike other impulse disordersbe
distressing and disabling, says psychiatrist
Nathan Shapira, MD, Ph.D.
32
Loved ones are
always the rst to identify this problem
those glued to the screen rarely recognize
it in themselves, Shapira told WebMD.com.
Interpersonal relationships are the rst to
suer.
e internet, as an engaging, interactive,
and often fun medium, lends itself to
addiction. As responsible, religious Jews,
we must strive to nd a balance, using the
internet as a tool and not letting it cv take
over our lives.
e author of this article advises that anyone who
wishes to follow up on the sources cited below should
do so with a default browser setting of Display no
images and only turn them on when necessary.
[31] Peeples, L. Breaking free from the Web: New rehab caters to Internet addicts. Scientic
American. 21 Aug2009. http://www.scienticamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=breaking-free-from-
the-web-new-reha-2009-08-21
[32] Davis, J. L. Internet Addiction: Ruining Lives? WebMD.comHealth News. 7 Aug. 2003. http://
www.webmd.com/baby/news/20030807/internet-addiction-ruining-lives
nerable to such a predicament over the next
twenty years?
30
Various factors have been blamed for this
phenomenon, including the fact that culturally
Koreans are driven to work very long hours
for six days a week, leading to a high stress
level and a need to nd an escape in online
games. ere are also internet cafes on ev-
ery corner and connection speeds are faster
there than anywhere in the world, making
everything so much more accessible. Still, the
article goes on to warn that this is the reality
all developed nations may be grappling with in
20 years from now.
Instead of looking at Korea as the ultimate
fate we will face as digital nations, we should
think strategically to avoid falling into the
same traps, the authors recommend.
e Far East is way ahead of the United
States in coming to grips with this problem,
even considering that the prevalence of In-
ternet addiction is much higher there. Still,
in America some symptoms of this growing
problem are beginning to manifest them-
selves:
For $14,500WiFi not includedan
addict can spend 45 Internet-abstinent
days at the Heavenseld Retreat Center
[run by the reStart Internet Addiction Re-
covery Program] and, hopefully, emerge
into the real world free of an obsession
with Facebook, online gambling or even
text messaging. ()
Meanwhile, in China, 400 private re-
habilitation clinics and camps tend
to some of the estimated 10 mil-
lion teenage Web addicts, according
to CNN. ats about 10 percent of the
[30] Khanna, P. and A. Koreas Internet Addiction: Fate of the World? Big ink. 6 July 2010. http://
bigthink.com/hybrid-reality/koreas-internet-addiction-fate-of-the-world
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Re-Solutions
Weve learned all about the terrible problems associated with the
internet. Weve all undertaken only to use only it if we must, and then
only with the proper lters.
Ok, so what do we do now?
e answer is that there is a wide assortment of ltering products
available to you today. It is important to be well informed of the
options so you can choose the ltering solution that is most suitable
for you. A wrong solution is as good as no solution.
e following information is provided by Technology Awareness
Group (TAG).
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B
aruch Hashem, we have reached this
point. nu :.: [n. u:: .c . .u: :.a.; ::u
:.+ .:n Just gathering together with
tens of thousands of concerned Jews to make
the commitment and proclaim ynu.: uy. We
will act! is the most empowering step in our
newly launched War on Technology. We are
prepared to implement the safeguards neces-
sary to maintain the purity of our minds.
Now the question is, What must we do to
protect ourselves?
If you are thinking to yourself, Put a lter on
the computer, you are only partially correct.
ere are a number of products and services,
each with their own set of benets and prob-
lems. No single solution is perfect. In fact, the
wrong solution may be no better than none at
all.
Lets begin with a general overview of the
pros and cons of the various approaches to
ltering the internet:
1. Using a kosher internet pro-
vider does protect your computer from
accessing unltered internet through
a cable or DSL, but if your computer is
outtted with a wireless adapter, it does
nothing to protect you from your neigh-
bors unlocked, unltered Wi-Fi. is is
a growing problem, as more and more
wireless hot spots are being set up,
such as at public libraries, internet cafes
and elsewhere.
2. Installing a ltering software
program on your computer may protect
that computer entirely, but it will not pro-
tect another computer or device you use
to access the same internet connection.
3. Some businesses use a
router lter that acts as a physical bar-
rier between the internet connection
and the workers computers. is has the
drawback that in theory a worker could
bypass the router lter and connect his
computer directly to the internet. (We
will oer solutions to this problem below.)
ere are two general approaches to lter-
ing: whitelisting and blacklisting. Whitelisting
blocks all sites other than those specic ones
needed by that individual for his work. is
makes it extremely unlikely for a slip-up to
occur. Blacklisting, on the other hand, seeks to
block only those sites that are known to the
lter to be problematic. Local ltering software
oers a weaker level of protection, since it can
be circumvented, especially by those who are
computer savvy. In any case, no lter can be
considered 100% foolproof.
In the case of blacklisting lters, it must be
understood that the lter is no more than a
program that attempts to identify problematic
sites and then block them. It is only as good as
the programmer who designed it. Dierent
lters rely on dierent algorithms to decide
which sites to block, and no system is perfect.
Some lters block the URLs to websites
which are considered problematic. ey are
programmed with a list of which websites to
block. e obvious aw in this system is that it
oers no protection against brand new web-
sites that have not yet been brought to the
lters attention. It is impossible for the lter
provider to remain fully up-to-date with all of
the new websites that are constantly being set
up.
A more sophisticated type of system is called
dynamic ltering. Under this system each web-
site is rst examined by the lter when the user
tries to access it. If the lter detects unkosher
material, it will block that page from opening.
Some of the lters do a better job than others.
Even the best of lters arein most cases
not produced by Orthodox Jews. As a result,
not everything that the lters allow through
is necessarily in keeping with what we should
be seeing. For example, even if a site may not
contain any lth, it may carry material from
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programs track all internet activity and send a
periodic report to an outsider who is appointed
to oversee that computer. e knowledge that
an outsider will check the log can be a powerful
deterrent from accessing lthy sites.
BUTeven a monitoring service has its
drawbacks:
1. If the monitor is a close friend, he may
not be a sucient deterrent to prevent
the user from visiting inappropriate sites.
Even worse, the innocent monitor may
now have in his hands a list of non-kosher
websites.
2. Monitoring programs can miss some
websites. If the user has access to the
report, he can discover which sites are
immune to the monitoring and then visit
them with impunity.
3. It is advisable that the program be able
to monitor non-internet activities taking
place on the computer. is is important
because the computer can be used to
view unsuitable videos or games.
4. Monitoring software should only be
considered eective when used together
with a lter. is is because the monitor
only prevents intentional accessing of
improper websites but does not block
inadvertent exposure to indecent mate-
rial. Especially in the case of children, one
wrong glance can aect the child for life.
In short, the solution to the internet problem
is far from simple. For each situation there is a
Christian missionaries. Photos may be permit-
ted even though they would not pass our stan-
dards of decency. As has been made abundant-
ly clear, avoiding even partially indecent images
is not [+ n.:un o.u: beyond the letter of the
law. It is required by basic Torah law.
Even with a lters that does supposedly
block 100% of the problems, the following is-
sues may still exist:
1. Most software lters allow the user
himself to control the lter under his own
username and password. In that case, the
computer is technically protected, but the
user is not. He may deactivate the lter in
a moment of weakness. It is critical that a
trusted third party should set up the lter
with a password unknown to the user.
2. If the lter does not block an image
search and the user can look for pictures,
the computer cannot be considered pro-
tected. Not only can the user utilize an
image search to view inappropriate pic-
tures, he can also use the pictures to reach
linked, unsuitable sites that the lter may
miss.
3. Even if the lter does a awless job of
blocking problematic websites, the user
can still insert an inappropriate CD or DVD,
or even a USB device with non-kosher
content.
It would seem that the best solution to these
problems would be to install one of the several
monitoring programs that are available. ese
In light of this, we must point out a widespread misconception
in the Orthodox community an unfortunate number of people
continue to walk around with full internet access in their pockets.
ese people remain as unprotected as they were before
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though, an unfortunate number continue to
walk around with full internet access in their
pockets. ese people remain as unprotected
as they were before.
Many people today have tablets which may
facilitate internet access even more than
smartphones, and perhaps even the traditional
computer. Until recently MP3 players were
treated as harmless devices that could only be
used to play back recorded music or speeches.
(Some have pointed out that because they
require computer access to load them, in many
cases MP3 players became the villains that
introduced innocent youths to computers.)
Today, many come with internet access, as well
as screens which can be used to watch videos.
It is shocking to discover how many in our
community remain uninformed about how
dangerous these items truly are. If they are not
aware of the problems, they will not employ the
available safeguards to protect themselves.
e rabbonim have ruled that no one should
own a smartphone, tablet or any similar device
that oers internet access unless safeguards
are implemented to prevent their misuse.
Following is an overview of the variety of
computers and other devices that oer in-
ternet access and the appropriate steps to be
taken for each category.
dierent solution, and for some there is no easy
solution at all. In such a case the potential user
must reassess whether it is worth the risk to
use that particular device.
We must emphasize that all the talk about
the importance of lters in recent years should
not be understood to imply that a lter is an
ideal solution. Any technician can tell you that
this is not the case. Filters are no more than a
backup solution. To properly protect a com-
puter requires far more than just a lter. In this
article we hope to educate the public about the
dierent options that are available to make our
computers as safe as we can.
*
If we are able to implement a standard of uni-
versal ltering of all computers in our commu-
nity, we will have won a tremendous victory in
our battle with the internet. Unfortunately, we
will still not even have begun to solve the prob-
lem in its entirety. is is because the internet
problem is no longer computer-based.
e times when you needed a computer to
access the internet are long behind us. It is be-
coming easier each day to log on with smaller
and smaller devices. In light of this, we must
point out a widespread misconception in the
Orthodox community: thousands have heeded
the advice of our rabbonim and protected their
computers from the internet. At the same time,
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Computers,
Laptops, Netbooks
Desktop Computers
F
or years the desktop computer was the most basic method for accessing the internet.
is device, composed of a hard drive, monitor (screen), keyboard and mouse is clumsy to
move around. Even recent models which are far lighter and smaller than their predecessors are
inconvenient to move.
Recommendations
x Desktop computers should be kept in the most public location available. e more open
the area is and the more people that can view the computer, the safer it is.
x ese computers should be stored in a way in which they are not accessible to children
(e.g. a locked cabinet).
Pros
x Because it is inconvenient to move
around, a desktop computer is unlikely to
be removed even temporarily by a child.
x At this point in time, the typical
desktop does not come with a Wi-Fi
option. at means that unless the
computer is hooked up to an internet
line there is no need to worry about it
being misused. Important Note: Some
newer models do have a built-in wireless
connection. Aditionally, small USB
wireless adapters are very inexpensive
and can be covertly plugged in to the
computer at any time.
Cons
x Even if the desktop has no internet
connection, or it has internet with a
proper lter, there is still the potential
of it being used to view unsuitable
materials on the CD or DVD player.
You may need to ask your supplier
to sell you a computer that does not
include a DVD drive, or you can have the
media codec removed to prevent the
computer from being used for videos.



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Laptop (Notebook) Computers
T
he laptop came out not long after the PC came into common use, but its popularity exploded in
the last 10-15 years when the price dropped. e laptop is intended to provide the same options
as a desktop computer, albeit with less power, in a compact and therefore more transportable form.
Laptops are particularly popular for those who need to save space or to carry their work with them
wherever they go.
Recommendations
x Laptops should be stored under lock and key when not in use so that children or other
unauthorized persons cannot access them.
Cons
x Aside from the fact that almost all
laptops come with a built-in DVD player,
they also usually have a built-in wireless
adapter. at means that even if the
internet connection in your home or oce
is ltered, the computer can still access
the internet through an unltered wireless
connection, particularly when travelling.
Netbooks
N
etbooks rst appeared in 2008 and they became an instant success due to their much smaller
size and price compared to laptops. Netbooks are intended as a lighter and cheaper alternative
for those who can aord less computing power than the laptop or nd the laptop either too bulky or
too expensive.
Pros
x Netbooks are so small that they do
not contain DVD drives. Important Note:
Netbooks can still be used to view videos
or movies through an external apparatus
plugged into its USB port.
Cons
x Because they are small and
lightweight, Netbooks easily lend
themselves to being borrowed and
misused by children or others without
the owners knowledge. It is extremely
important that they be locked safely away
when not in use.
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J-net
J
-net is the only Jewish company to oer a blacklist lter, meaning that you
can access anything on the internet except for those sites that are deemed
inappropriate and blocked. J-net also oers whitelist lters that block all
access except to those specic websites that are needed by the user. e
internet can also be blocked entirely, leaving e-mail access only.
Pros
x J-nets lter can detect unsuitable
material even when it is written in Hebrew.
x e internet is ltered before it en-
ters your home or oce, meaning that every
computer or device using that connection is
protected.
x J-net uses real time ltering to lter
websites in 4 milliseconds as you open them.
x J-net is one of the only companies
to oer the option of blocking any exposed
skin or entire images that are deemed
inappropriate.
Cons
x Only oered with a DSL connection
x Requires a monthly subscription.
x A wireless connection to a
dierent provider will allow you to
access the internet without ltering.





Possible Solutions
It is advisable to disable the Wi-Fi option on your computer. Ask your supplier or call TAG and
ask how this can be done. If for some reason you need to maintain your wireless option, such
as to access the internet while on a business trip, make sure to install a separate software
lter on your computer.
Kosher Internet
Providers
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YeshivaNet
Y
eshivaNet oers whitelisting to block out all internet except
the specic sites you need. YeshivaNet also oers an e-mail
only option.
Kosher Internet
Providers
Cons
x Only oered with a DSL connection
x Requires a monthly subscription.
x A wireless connection to a dierent
provider will allow you to access the internet
without ltering.
Pros
x YeshivaNet is extremely careful about
which sites it permits. ere is no way to open
a site that is not on your whitelist.
x Access is ltered outside your home
or oce, protecting all computers and devices
that share that internet connection.
x e internet is ltered before it enters
your home or oce, meaning that every
computer or device using that connection is
protected.
Possible Solutions
It is advisable to disable the Wi-Fi option on your computer. Ask your supplier or call TAG and
ask how this can be done. If for some reason you need to maintain your wireless option, such as
to access the internet while on a business trip, make sure to install a separate software lter on
your computer.
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K9
K
9 is a free lter that is produced by a
respected company, Blue Coat, which is
a leading provider of Web security solutions.
e lter does a reasonably good job at ltering
out most inappropriate websites, especially
when it is set to a higher security level.
Pros
x e lter is free and can be
installed on as many computers as
you like.
x e software is installed
on your computer, eliminating the
possibility of bypassing the lter
through a wireless connection.
x Can be programmed to allow
internet access only at set times of
day.
x Also blocks virus-infected
and malicious websites.
Cons
x K9s greatest drawback is
that it is designed to protect children,
not adults. e computers owner
enters the password and can there-
fore uninstall the lter at any time.





Possible Solutions
x Have the password entered by an outsider who is not a close friend and will not share it with
you. For more details, call TAG.
x A popular method to protect the computer is for two or more people to each know part of the
password. at way no single person can disable the lter.
x Although the lter has a good success rate at blocking unsuitable websites even in foreign
languages, it is not guaranteed. On occasion, sites that should not be viewed are permitted.
Software
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KosherNet
K
osherNet provides software that
can be downloaded directly to your
computer for a relatively low price.


Software
Cons
x e lter protects only that
particular computer and not other
computers or devices that may share
the same internet connection.
x e lter employs lists of
improper websites and various
keywords. ere is a chance that an
inappropriate site may slip through the
lter.
x Requires a monthly
subscription.



Pros
x Because the lter is installed
in your computer, the computer
is protected against any internet
connection, including wireless.
x e password is kept by the
company so it cannot be disabled by
any user.
x KosherNet provides separate
user accounts when more than one
person uses the computer, allowing
each user to choose the ltering
level appropriate for him or her. A
user that needs only e-mail service
can block the internet entirely.
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FilterNet
F
ilterNet is another company that provides
lter software that is downloaded directly to
your computer.
Pros
x Because the lter is installed
on your computer, the computer
is protected against any internet
connection, including wireless.
x e password is kept by the
company so it cannot be disabled by
any user.
x FilterNet provides separate
user accounts when more than one
person uses the computer, allowing
each user to choose the ltering level
appropriate for him or her. A user that
needs only e-mail service can block
the internet entirely.
Cons
x e lter protects only that
particular computer and not other
computers or devices that may share
the same internet connection.
x e lter employs lists of
improper websites and various
keywords. ere is a chance that an
inappropriate site may slip through
the lter.
x Requires a monthly
subscription.






Software
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VocaTech
V
ocaTech, under Orthodox ownership,
provides high-quality PBX, VoIP, ltering
and other services for businesses. Since their
lter is router-based there is no software to
download and it is very hard to circumvent
even for a professional.
Pros
x e lter was created by
Orthodox Jews in accordance with
Jewish values.
x Professional team researches
and updates VocaTechs blacklist daily.
x Ability to whitelist as many as
hundreds of thousands of websites.
x VocaTech gets an alert if the
administrator unplugs the router.
x VocaTech claims its router
actually speeds up the clients web-
services.
Cons
x Laptop computers are not
protected when outside of the oce.
x Requires purchase of router
and a monthly subscription.
Router-based
Software
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SonicWall
S
onicWall oers a line of router lters for both
small and large businesses, allowing the
business to control the content of the internet that
its workers can access.
Pros
x Provides ltering for any
computer or device relying on that
router.
x Allows dierent settings
for each computer so access can be
customized for each individual worker.
x If a worker accesses a site
that is not permitted or commits any
other forbidden computer activity, the
administrator is immediately notied
through an e-mail message.
Cons
x Despite SonicWalls good
performance rate with its whitelist,
its blacklist lter should be considered
below par.
x It doesnt apply real time
ltering.
x e administrator has the
password and can use it to permit
unsuitable material to his/her own or
others computers.
x SonicWall will not block
outside wireless connections.
Router-based
Software
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OpenDNS
O
penDNS is a free (for personal use) DNS service
that also oers free ltering. When installed in one
computer it blocks inappropriate sites and content in
all computers and devices that are relying on the same
router.
Pros
x Provides ltering for any
computer or device relying on that
router.
x Protects computers from
malware and spyware.
x Blocks phishing websites
from loading on your computer. It uses
data from Phishtank, a community
site that is also used by Yahoo! Mail to
determine if some particular website
is part of any online phishing scam.
Cons
x e one who installs it knows
the password.
x Does not block outside
wireless connection.
x If a domain cannot be
found or a webpage is blocked,
the service redirects users to a
search page with search results
and advertising unless the user
has paid for an upgraded service.

Router-based
Software
Kinus Klal Yisrael

Citi Field

Sunday, May 20
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2012 93 Kinus Klal Yisrael

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iBoss
i
Boss provides router lters for homes, businesses and
schools that both lter content and oer time limits.
Pros
x Provides ltering for any
computer or device relying on that
router.
x Allows dierent settings for
each computer and even dierent
users on the same computer.
x Can be set to send an e-mail
or text message in case someone
unplugs the router lter. (is does not
protect the individual who receives the
message from unplugging the lter
himself. Solution: Have the message
sent to an outsider who does not have
access to the router.)
Cons
x e one who installs the
router knows the password.
x Does not block outside
wireless connections.











Router-based
Software
94 Kinus Klal Yisrael

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Livigent
L
ivigent is designed specically for businesses. e company
uses updated technology to block websites that may slip past
other lters. J-net recently partnered with Livigent to sell its
products to Orthodox Jewish business owners and homeowners
who wish to use a mainstream internet provider and still benet
from a strong lter.
Pros
x Aside from blocking bad
websites, the lter uses cutting-
edge technology to analyze the text
content and images of each and every
website, allowing it to block sites that
have not been blacklisted by other
lters.
x Understands 12 dierent
languages, guaranteeing that
indecent material will be blocked in
foreign languages as well.
x Permits blocking bare skin or
entire images deemed inappropriate.
x Password is kept by the
company, preventing individuals from
bypassing the lter.
x Optional software installed
on computers can block the internet
if the Livigent device is unplugged.
Cons
x Does not block outside
wireless connections.










Router-based
Software
Kinus Klal Yisrael

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Sunday, May 20
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2012 95 Kinus Klal Yisrael

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Monitoring
Software
Monitoring software employs an entirely dierent approach to the above solutions, in that
it does not provide ltering. Instead it provides a deterrent to viewing inappropriate material by
sharing a log of sites visited with a designated outsider.
Important Note: Even a computer that benets from a strong lter must have monitoring
software as a backup, since even the best lters will occasionally allow certain unsuitable sites to
be accessed. Monitoring compensates for the shortcomings inherent in the ltering systems. At
the same time, monitoring without a lter is insucient for a number of reasons, the primary one
being that it does not prevent an unsuitable site from being opened inadvertently.
WebChaver/Covenant Eyes
W
ebChaver and Covenant Eyes are very highly
regarded monitoring software programs that log
each site visited by the computer on which it is installed
and send a monthly report to a responsible outsider
appointed as that computers monitor.
Pros
x Generally do well at noticing
sites that lters may overlook.
Cons
x If the monthly report
contains improper sites, it can lead to
complications, such as compromising
the monitoring individual.
Possible Solution
Choose a responsible, upstanding monitor who is suciently removed from the computers
owner and users to present a serious deterrent.
Like lters, monitoring programs only report on internet activity and not the programs,
games and videos which may have been used on the computer.
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eBlaster
T
his monitoring service tracks other computer activities in addition to
internet use, but is also more complicated.
Pros
x In addition to monitoring online
searches and websites, it tracks which
programs were used, records chat
conversations and e-mails as well as
every keystroke.
x Separately tracks each user,
including exactly when and how long
they were on the computer.
Cons
x Reports are complex and
dicult for non-experts to follow.
x Does not report on the types
of videos viewed on the computer.
PC Black Box
P
C Black Box takes screenshots of all activities performed on
the computer and sends it to a pre-arranged e-mail address.
Pros
x Saves the standard keys pressed, programs used,
websites visited and takes screenshots at selected intervals.
Monitoring
Software
Kinus Klal Yisrael

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are critical for you. It is advisable that the user
not have the password to the apps lock.
A monitoring app can be downloaded to
monitor all activities on the iPad and send
an e-mail report to a selected address. e
monitoring app must be locked so it cannot
be deactivated.
Android
K9 has just released a lter for the Android.
Our initial tests indicate that this is a strong
lter for blocking unsuitable websites.
However, it suers the same issue as all other
K9 lters: namely, that the administrator
has the password and can bypass the lter.
is problem can be solved with one of the
solutions we mentioned above in the K9
section for computers.
Another option is the McAfee app which
can be used for ltering and monitoring, but
from what we have heard thus far, it is not too
dicult to bypass.
Solutions
No lter is ideal, so be certain that in
addition to K9 you download locks and apply
them to all apps that involve internet usage. It
is advisable that the password be known only
to someone other than the Androids user.
You can also download a monitoring app
to monitor all activities on the Android and
send an e-mail to a selected address. e
monitoring app should be locked to prevent it
from being deactivated.
Blackberry Playbook, Windows Tablet
At this point in time there is no lter available
for Blackberry Playbook or Windows Tablet.
We strongly discourage the purchase or use
of these devices.
Tablets
(iPads, Androids, etc.)
ese devices were specically designed
to provide constant mobile access to the
internet, any time and any place. eir
extreme portability combined with the
increasing prevalence of Wi-Fi present
a serious challengefar worse than the
desktop computer. Because of their small
size, the deterrent factor of being seen by
others while browsing the web is virtually
eliminated.
Because they are so new, there are far
fewer established solutions for ltering
these devices. Purchasers of these devices
are urged to proceed with extreme caution.
Beware of the fact that there are currently no
satisfactory solutions available. e following
represents the best recommendations based
on what we know at this point in time.
iPad
K9 provides a ltered browser for iPads that
can be downloaded for free. e lter blocks
unwanted websites, but our technicians have
found that on the iPad it can be bypassed. In
addition, the iPad can be reset, returning it to
its pre-lter state.
Solutions
Until a better ltering option becomes
available, be forewarned that the iPad is
completely unsuitable for children. Download
an apps lock and place a lock on all apps that
can be used to browse the
internet, excluding the K9
browser and whatever apps
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Safari browser and YouTube to guarantee
that unsuitable content will not be accessible.
ere is one additional solution for the
iPhone: mymobilewatchdog.com provides a
good monitoring service, but this service has
issues and may be dicult to use.
Android
(See above at Tablets section.)
Palm Pixi
e internet can be used for e-mail only.
Kosher Phones (Voice Only)
Safe Tec (carrier: Sprint. Afordeble rates)
Tel: 855-212-SAFE
Meshumar (carrier: Page Plus)
Palm Pixi (carrier: Page Plus)
Purely voice
Important Note
e internet is evolving faster than anyone
can imagine. ere are many more devices
than just computers that can access the
internet, including but not limited to MP3s,
iPods and gaming devices for kids. Most of
them are extremely dicult to monitor and
lter. People should be extra cautious about
those devices and children should not be
allowed to have access to any device that has
internet capabilities.
In the coming years as the internet
becomes much more sophisticated and
internet access will become standard on
many more electronic devices, the struggle
against the negative inuence of the internet
will become ever tougher. We have to be
on constant alert in the ght against this
terrible enemy and to ensure the spiritual
and physical safety of our kids.
Cell Phones
Virtually all cell phones today oer internet
access, but the greatest danger lies in smart
phones, such as the Blackberry, iPhone and
Android since they function as pocket-sized
computers with full internet capabilities.
Blackberry
e only company that provides a lter for
Blackberries is J-net. is lter costs just a
few dollars per month, but to use it you have
to add a service called Enterprise to your plan.
Enterprise is oered by Verizon and Sprint for
approximately $20 per month. e J-net lter
for the Blackberry performs well and cannot
be bypassed. At the clients request, J-net
can also block internet entirely and provide
e-mail-only service.
A much cheaper solution is to use the
everylock app to shut o the browser
completely. Again, though, the bearer of
the password has the power to unlock the
browser.
iPhone
K9 oers a free ltered browser for the
iPhone. Or, for $4.99 you can download
Mobicip, which does a very good job of
providing ltered internet service. e
browser relies on Mobicips servers to lter
unwanted URLs and search results.
e problem with both of these lters is
that they are designed to protect children,
not adults. As such, whoever downloads the
browser also knows the password and can
bypass the lters. In addition, these lters
are not foolproof. In short, at this point in time
there is no satisfactory ltering solution to
protect iPhones from accessing unsuitable
websites.
To further protect your iPhone, you should
download an app lock and lock the app store,
Souvenir of
Attendance
(a: n.) oa. on :+ny [yn: :.: o:nn: .uca a:n.:
And record it in writing and seal it
that it may last for many days. (Yirmiyahu 32)
Let it be recorded for posterity that I __________________________________u:ny
heeded the call of the Gedolim and participated in person at the historic Asifa
at which Klal Yisrael, with the Gedolim of America at the helm, gathered to-
gether at Citi Field on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5772, May 20, 2012, to unite
in committing ourselves to facing the challenges of modern technology.
In the course of the evening I listened to and was inspired by addresses by:
________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
e following points in particular made an impression on me:
________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
I was deeply moved by the following aspects of the program:
________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
As a result of this event I have taken upon myself the following resolution/s:
________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________
Impressions/Notes: ___________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________
Signed: ____________________________________________
:aui itnat
jvn: tat ntnnt
ni: nn tvnv
(a: n.)
nn;: n.: . [u. ;;n a: :u n:n:ua
::a ut:a u:u.: .+. +nyna :an
n. u: ::n. .uu c:.. ::w
:.nun on:u: ou. n:aa. unn {a;a
::+. n:uu.a y;.ynu n::.a :u.u .a
cn:n o:a uu:u n:u n.n .:un:
;u: ayun n.u [:c u+:n uu. a.y
.+:yuuc .+u nuua
_____ nxv :v :ip:t ,p:n nnp: nat
____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
____________ nw:v n vtnw: nat
____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
n:.:n ::y :a;: n.:
[:n oy +na onu
.:u.u .a :.nu n:aa.
ntnw:t nt:vn
____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
____________________________
_______________________ nnn
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